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Securing wind farm jobs and improving child care access are among local panel's priorities

Offshore wind farms is among priorities of the

Offshore wind farms is among priorities of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council. Seen here, Deepwater Wind turbines off Block Island, R.I. Credit: Newsday/Mark Harrington

A local panel that promotes economic development is focused on improving access to day care, creating jobs at wind farms and encouraging COVID-19 refugees to settle on Long Island permanently.

These priorities are part of the "pandemic pivot" agenda outlined by the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council in a report submitted last month to Empire State Development, the state's primary business-aid agency.

In the 138-page report, the council said it’s seeking proposals from businesses, nonprofits and governments that will help "create an equity economy" where minorities, women and veterans will have the same opportunity as others to succeed.

Council co-vice chairmen Kevin Law of the developer Tritec Real Estate Co. and Stuart Rabinowitz of Hofstra University said, "Investing in our underserved communities and people — including veterans, the formerly incarcerated, the developmentally disabled and others — is not just the right thing to do. In a region where too many jobs remain unfilled, it’s also the smart thing."

Applications for a share of $750 million in state tax credits and grants are due to the council by July 30 at 4 p.m. The council will review the proposals and make funding recommendations to Albany.

The Long Island council will compete with nine others from across the state in the 10th Regional Economic Development Councils competition. Winners are expected to be announced in December.

More information may be found at regionalcouncils.ny.gov/long-island.

Council seeking proposals

In the report, the local council said it wants funding proposals that will prepare manufacturers and residents of Nassau and Suffolk counties to benefit from the five offshore wind farms under development.

The council said local factories need "to expand or retool" to compete for contracts to make components for the wind farms. Regional worker-training programs must achieve Global Wind Organization certification to ensure their graduates secure jobs, the group added.

The council also said it would prioritize projects that bring day care services to areas of Long Island where there are none.

"Child care is one of the biggest barriers to getting people back to work," the council said, adding that 71% of local children under age 6 live in households where all the adults are employed. The average cost of day care is almost $17,000 per child — and for some families, that equals 30% of their yearly income.

Further, the council called for vacant stores in malls, strip plazas and downtowns to be converted into housing, work training centers, manufacturing and entertainment venues. These new uses would be part of a larger plan to make Long Island more attractive to city residents who fled Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens during the pandemic.

The council said it wants to "persuade COVID refugees from the city to make Long Island their permanent home or place of business." The council also wants to keep more older residents from leaving because they "are far and away the biggest per capita spenders."

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