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Long Island wins $87.9 million in state aid competition

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, center, presents members of

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, center, presents members of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council  with $87.9 million in state aid for projects in Nassau and Suffolk counties during a ceremony Thursday in Albany. Credit: Hans Pennink

ALBANY - Long Island won $87.9 million in state aid Thursday for infrastructure projects, company expansions and worker training, capturing one of the largest awards among New York’s 10 regions.

The Island came up a big winner in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s annual competition for capital grants and state tax credits aimed at creating jobs. He appointed 10 Regional Economic Development Councils in 2011 to vie with one another for the aid.

The 2019 allocation for Nassau and Suffolk counties will be divided among 94 projects, including $5 million each for sewer pipes in Great Neck and Long Beach, $3.6 million for land purchases in Suffolk County to protect drinking water, and $3 million for a new YMCA in Lake Success with daycare services for the children of Northwell Health employees.

"These funds will be used to create jobs, provide growth and change people’s lives,” Kevin Law, co-vice chairman of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, said after the Albany ceremony. Law also serves as president of the Long Island Association business group.

Other local projects winning more than $1 million include $2.3 million for a sewage treatment upgrade at Harry Tappen Beach in Glenwood Landing, $2 million for a nurses' training facility at Hofstra University, $1.5 million for improvements to Sag Harbor's Long Wharf pier and $1.2 million for six television and film production studios in Port Washington.

There is also money for repairs to the iconic Montauk Lighthouse ($438,500) and Fire Island Lighthouse ($39,000), a job training program for the disabled at Pal-O-Mine Equestrian in Islandia ($600,000), and a blight study in Port Jefferson Station ($65,000).  

Council co-vice chairman Stuart Rabinowitz, Hofstra University president, said, "The projects we focused on this year send a powerful message about our commitment to equity, inclusion and building a sustainable economy that reaches every community on Long Island.”

The 21-member council reviewed 232 local applications for aid and made funding recommendations to state agencies that then made the final determinations. 

In the nine years of the competition, Long Island has won $727 million for 885 projects. It has been a big winner six out of nine times.

 All regions are awarded funding each year but the big winners, which receive the most, this year were Long Island, Binghamton/Southern Tier, Syracuse, Utica/Mohawk Valley and Albany. The Island secured the second-highest amount after Binghamton/Southern Tier's $88.9 million. A total of $761.5 million was given out on Thursday.

At the awards ceremony in the Albany Convention Center, state officials said the development councils’ contest is a better method of distributing grants and tax credits than the previous method, in which decisions were made by the governor and state legislators. The councils have devised development plans and receive input from hundreds of people in each region.

“Those on Long Island should be very happy about today’s result because it comes in large part from those on the ground who identified what were the most important projects for the region,” said Eric Gertler, CEO of Empire State Development, the state's primary business-aid agency.

Still, the Citizens Budget Commission, a nonpartisan fiscal watchdog in Manhattan, said there is room for improvement.

Funding awarded via the councils is “thinly spread among a region and industries,” the commission said in a statement. “Regional assessments should carry more weight in funding allocations” than the opinions of Albany bureaucrats.

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