A state judging panel that will help to determine how much state business aid Long Island will receive next year visited local development sites Wednesday, including the Wyandanch Rising blight-removal project, winner of more than $14 million in aid since 2011.
The judges -- Secretary of State Cesar Perales, Tax Commissioner Jerry Boone and General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito -- appeared to be impressed with a two-bedroom apartment that they walked through in one of the new buildings in Wyandanch.
Earlier in the 4½-hour tour, the judges heard about plans to redevelop the Nassau Hub in Uniondale from County Executive Edward Mangano, who is seeking $4 million from the state for sewer improvements.
Nassau's application is among 254 received last month by the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council as part of an annual statewide competition.
Applications are scored on a 100-point scale with as many as 20 points from the local council and a maximum of 80 from the state agencies providing the funding. Applicants are competing for a portion of as much as $105 million in state tax credits and grants for the Island. A total of as much as $750 million will be given statewide with winners named in the fall.
The Long Island council has secured $326.2 million for 347 projects in the past four years.
The state funds have been matched by more than $2 billion in private money." These are not just plans," said Kevin Law, council co-vice chairman and president of the Long Island Association business group. "These are projects that are happening."
The judging panel plays a key role in determining which big projects get funding.
Since 2011, the most aid has gone to the Wyandanch Rising development and education programs in the hamlet, one of Suffolk County's poorest communities. Stony Brook University is close behind in aid, receiving $14 million for a variety of initiatives.
Two of Stony Brook's projects are in collaboration with Brookhaven National Laboratory, which won $7 million to place No. 3 in a list compiled by Newsday of the largest aid recipients.
Rounding out the top five are Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the Ronkonkoma Hub, each with more than $5 million.
Stuart Rabinowitz, council co-vice chairman and Hofstra University president, said, "these state investments are helping to build Long Island's innovation economy."
He also said the council has selected biotechnology as the local industry deserving of more state help. No two regions in the state can designate the same industry for special financial attention.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the state's $14.1 million commitment had been instrumental to the Wyandanch Rising development. During a tour, the state judges met two Wyandanch residents whose lives were turned around, they said, in part by a skills training center that replaced a closed McDonald's.
Later, the judges heard from three Wyandanch teenagers who attended an entrepreneurship camp organized by Suffolk County Community College, and who said they now knew more about careers and starting a business.
As the tour wrapped up, Perales, the head judge, said: "We have been very impressed by what we've seen."