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Cruelty-free leather maker among firms vying for state aid

Stuart Rabinowitz, left, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and

Stuart Rabinowitz, left, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and Kevin Law at a Long Island Regional Economic Development Council meeting at Hofstra University on Feb. 23, 2016, in Hempstead. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

A biotech laboratory that would “grow” leather in Farmingdale, a plan to increase ice production for Montauk’s fishing industry, and a consumer research center at Hofstra University were among several dozen projects vying for state funding Tuesday.

The Long Island Regional Economic Development Council heard two-minute pitches about building projects and business expansions that are seeking state grants and tax credits.

The council, which consists of business, labor and university leaders, recommends local projects for state business aid in a competition that distributes about $750 million a year. Final funding decisions are made by state officials.

Advocates for more than 30 projects signed up to make presentations, each hoping to win the local council’s designation of “priority project.”

Modern Meadow, a Brooklyn biotech company that says it “grows real leather without killing animals,” wants to open a lab and factory at Farmingdale State College’s Broad Hollow Bioscience Park.

“We use a process called biofabrication,” said Andras Forgacs, chief executive of the 5-year-old business that moved to New York State in 2014.

“We love being in Brooklyn but we are constrained for space,” he told about 100 people gathered in a Melville meeting room. “We’re looking to create high-value jobs on Long Island.”

Modern Meadow wants to rent up to 70,000 square feet at Farmingdale State, Forgacs said. The company has 35 employees and expects to add 115 in two years. It already participates in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Start-Up NY program of tax-free zones on college campuses for growing businesses.

Representatives of Montauk Inlet Seafood outlined a $600,000 plan to boost the production of ice used to process, store and transport fish. They said an ice shortage has limited their operation, which is the largest of its kind in the state.

Hofstra University business school dean Herman Berliner asked council members to endorse a new Consumer Behavior Market Research Laboratory.

He said the lab “would provide a window into the mind of the consumer that will help businesses, local businesses.” The $3 million project would occupy 1,700 square feet at the business school.

The council will submit its funding recommendations later this summer. Those seeking aid have until July 29 to apply. Cuomo will announce winners in December.

The local council is vying with nine others across the state. It secured $98.3 million last year for 121 projects.

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