Jim Morgo, left, and Richard V. Guardino Jr. in 2017.

Jim Morgo, left, and Richard V. Guardino Jr. in 2017. Credit: Heather Walsh and Ed Betz

A former Hempstead Town supervisor and an ex-Suffolk County economic development commissioner will lead a group to review local building projects for $350 million in state funding, which has been reserved for use on Long Island, officials said.

Rich Guardino, who served on the Hempstead Town board for 21 years, including five as supervisor, and Jim Morgo, Suffolk’s former economic development chief, will chair a new “work group” of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council. Since 2011, the council has helped determine how state business grants and tax breaks are distributed across the region.

"We're going to look at everything that's out there and make some recommendations," Guardino said on Tuesday. "This is a unique opportunity for Long Island that doesn't come around very often."

The work group is expected to screen building projects for the development council. The council will then make recommendations to Empire State Development, the state’s primary business-aid agency, about how the Long Island Investment Fund should be spent.

The $350 million fund was a last-minute addition to the new state budget adopted this month. 

“The LIIF Work Group will solicit ideas and suggestions” from other development council members, elected officials, educators, business and nonprofit leaders and the public, said Kevin Law, who established the work group “as my last official act” as council co-vice chairman. He has been nominated to become ESD chairman.

“No other region in the state received a pot of funds to support their local economy,” Law said, referring to the 2022-23 state budget.

Law said Guardino and Morgo “are respected for their economic development expertise."

Law and others noted the investment fund mirrors a $550 million Transformative Investment Program established in the 2015-16 state budget.

That money went to 18 projects, including a bioelectronic medicine center at Northwell Health in Manhasset, expansion of Hofstra University’s engineering school and sewers in Smithtown and Kings Park.

Morgo said of the new investment fund, “This is an opportunity to improve things on Long Island, to get some really needed things done … We want to solicit ideas about how to solve some of the Island’s problems” such as Suffolk’s lack of sewers, traffic congestion and the difficulty in doing business here, he said.

Morgo, a Democrat, now works as a development consultant and Guardino, a Republican, is executive director of Long Island Regional Planning Council. 

ESD spokeswoman Emily Mijatovic said guidelines for the investment fund "will be established to solicit and review projects and this process will be finalized in the coming weeks."

Projects that receive funding will be listed in a public database created by ESD last year.

NOTABLE TRANSFORMATIVE PROJECTS

Since 2015, 18 building projects on Long Island have shared $550 million in state funding via the Transformative Investment Program.

Nassau Hub parking garages, pedestrian bridges, other improvements, Uniondale, $131 million

Stony Brook University's center for innovation in medicine, engineering, Stony Brook, $75 million

New research facilities at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, $55 million

Parking garages at the Ronkonkoma Hub, Ronkonkoma, $50 million

New research facilities at Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, $45 million

SOURCE: Newsday research

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