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Competition for NYS business aid restructured; LI to get $90M to $105M

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, in Rochester on March

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, in Rochester on March 11, 2015, detailed his proposed changes to the $750 million Regional Economic Development Councils' competition for business aid. Credit: Governor's office

Long Island this year would receive state business aid of $90 million, at a minimum, to $105 million, at the maximum, under a budget proposal from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The region has been among the big winners three times in Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Councils' competition for grants and state tax credits to expanding businesses and building projects. But only once has it received more than $83 million. The contest began in 2011.

Cuomo is again proposing to distribute as much as $750 million statewide, roughly the same amount that's been allocated each year.

Kevin Law, co-vice chairman of the local development council and president of the Long Island Association, praised Cuomo's proposal Friday: "Another $100 million will certainly be welcomed" and would be used for projects "that will create jobs and strengthen our regional economy."

The Island will compete with New York City, Buffalo and four upstate regions this year, a change from 2014 when all 10 regions vied together for business aid.

The change is necessitated by Cuomo's proposed Upstate Revitalization Initiative, which will award three upstate areas $100 million each this year. The initiative is opposed by some state lawmakers.

Of the $750 million at stake in the development councils' competition, "approximately $600 million" would go upstate, according to a news release and new website from the Cuomo administration. That leaves Long Island and New York City to split $150 million.

Using the formula outlined in the news release, the program could be $15 million in the red.

A shortfall will not happen, Cuomo administration officials insisted Friday, saying the figures in the release and website were estimates.

"As the governor has said and laid out in his [proposed] budget, every region, Long Island included, will receive more funding than in years past," said Jason Conwall, a spokesman for Empire State Development, which oversees the aid competition.

The funding must be approved by the State Legislature as part of the 2015-16 state budget, which is due April 1.

The Assembly's Democratic majority has rejected the amount, said spokesman Michael Whyland. The State Senate supports it, though the Republican majority wants a greater say in which projects receive money. "The Senate's plan will help every region of the state that needs it," said spokesman Scott Reif.

Separately, the Senate GOP wants $150 million for a pharmaceutical research zone that creates businesses from work done at Brookhaven National Laboratory, Stony Brook University, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Hofstra University.

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