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Long Island a big winner in Cuomo’s competition for state aid

Long Island Regional Economic Development Council co-vice chairman

Long Island Regional Economic Development Council co-vice chairman Stuart Rabinowitz, center, is welcomed on stage by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, left, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, rear, during the 2017 Regional Economic Development Councils Awards ceremony in Albany, on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Credit: Tim Roske

ALBANY — Long Island won $84.3 million in state aid on Wednesday for company expansions, sewer projects and research laboratories, one of the largest awards among New York’s 10 regions.

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

All regions receive funding, but the big winners, which receive the most, this year are Long Island, Syracuse, Utica/Mohawk Valley, Albany and the Hudson Valley.

A total of $755 million was awarded on Wednesday.

The 2017 allocation for Nassau and Suffolk counties will be divided among 98 projects, including $5 million for a sewer expansion in Northport, $3.5 million for a proposed YMCA in Wyandanch, $2 million for the Carman Place housing and retail development in Hempstead Village, and $2 million for a semiconductor research center at Stony Brook University.

“This $84 million from the state will be matched by hundreds of millions of dollars from the private sector, and create jobs from Montauk to Manhasset,” said Kevin Law, co-vice chairman of the local development council and president of the Long Island Association business group. “This is a big day for Long Island.”

Stuart Rabinowitz, council co-vice chairman and Hofstra University president, pointed to the Wyandanch Y, the latest component of the Wyandanch Rising blight removal project to receive state aid.

“Seven years ago the council took a chance on Wyandanch, because there are pockets of poverty on Long Island and there are many of them,” he said. “And progress is being made in Wyandanch.”

The awards were announced in a convention center near the State Capitol and featured remarks by Cuomo, who spent much of his time criticizing the proposed Republican tax-cutting plan making its way through Congress.

He said it would make New York “uncompetitive” because businesses would no longer be able to deduct state and local taxes on their federal income tax returns. He also predicted a large state budget deficit as Uncle Sam reduces funding to the states.

However, Cuomo and his economic development czar, Howard Zemsky, said there are no plans to discontinue the development councils contest and other business-aid programs.

Zemsky said, “The Regional Economic Development Councils have proven to be the most effective way of doing economic development.”

Since 2011, Long Island has won $571 million for 688 projects in the councils’ competition, second only to Syracuse.

Among the 10 local projects receiving the most money this year, four are for sewers in Long Beach, Point Lookout, Northport and Sea Cliff, totaling $13 million.

Still, one high-profile wastewater initiative wasn’t funded: a $50 million proposal to help Suffolk County homeowners replace failing cesspools with advanced on-site treatment systems.

“While we are disappointed that the application was not funded through the REDC process, the county remains hopeful that it will receive the lion’s share of the $75 million included in the state’s Clean Water Infrastructure Act for septic system replacements,” said Jason Elan, a spokesman for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

Many local projects weren’t funded, as the Long Island council received 230 applications this year, a 29 percent increase over 2016.

With Emily Dooley

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