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LI awarded $68M from state for business expansions, affordable housing

Lutricia "Pat" Edwards, Long Island VP of Community

Lutricia "Pat" Edwards, Long Island VP of Community Development at Citigroup, second left, talks with Robert Kennedy, Mayor of the Village of Freeport prior to the regional economical development council awards ceremony in Albany on Tuesday. Credit: Hans Pennink

ALBANY — Long Island won $68.3 million in state economic aid on Tuesday for company expansions, affordable housing, worker training and sewers.

 The aid will go to 103 projects in Nassau and Suffolk counties. These include expansions of Nassau Candy, BOSS Facility Services and Wenner Bread Products, worker training programs at King Kullen Grocery Co. and Purolator International Inc., and a downtown master plan for Brightwaters.

The most money, $5 million each, is for sewer projects in Long Beach, Suffolk County’s south shore and in Westhampton Beach.

However, the Island fell short  Tuesday of its goal of placing among the big winners in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s annual Regional Economic Development Councils competition. It had done so in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017.

This years’ big winners were New York City, Rochester/Finger Lakes, Syracuse, Utica/Mohawk Valley and the Hudson Valley. It was only the second time that New York City was a big winner in the contest’s eight-year history.

 The big regional winners each secured more than $80 million in grants and state tax credits, while runners-up got about $65 million.

A total of $763 million was awarded to 1,055 projects at a ceremony here near the state Capitol.

The 2018 allocation to Nassau and Suffolk counties is $16 million less than the $84.3 million they received in 2017.

Kevin Law, co-vice chairman of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council and president of the Long Island Association business group, said he was disappointed that the Island wasn’t a big winner. “But whenever you come to Albany and leave with $68.3 million, the day was very successful,” he said in an interview.

The local council and nine others across the state were established by Cuomo in 2011 to devise job-creation plans and vie for funding to implement them. Critics call the process “The Hunger Games” of economic development.

The Island has now won $639.1 million over eight years for 791 projects. It ranks fourth in funding behind Syracuse, Rochester and the Hudson Valley.

 Among other Long Island aid recipients this year is the Peconic Land Trust, which will use $3 million to continue land purchases on the East End to prevent groundwater pollution.

Five local projects are slated to each receive $1 million: the Estella Housing development in Hempstead Village, Matinecock Court housing development in East Northport, the proposed NYU Long Island School of Medicine at Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, a stormwater treatment project in Hempstead Town and a parking garage in bustling downtown Patchogue.

“This year’s award will support vital infrastructure improvements, affordable housing and workforce development programs” that help “to build a sustainable, competitive economy,” said council co-vice chairman Stuart Rabinowitz, Hofstra University's president.

Cuomo, for the first time, didn’t attend the ceremony because of a work conflict on Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

Citing the decades-long decline of Long Island’s defense factories and western New York’s steel mills, she praised the development councils for identifying new industries. “We know what it feels like to suffer. We felt the pain,” she said, citing her roots in the Buffalo area.

“But we also know what a comeback feels like . . .[and] that’s what is happening in every corner of this state."

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