A state panel, weighing how much business aid to give Long Island, yesterday asked local leaders what they’re doing to make sure unskilled workers are not left behind as the Island tries to create a biotechnology industry.
Panel member Roberta Reardon, the state labor commissioner, called the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council’s past support for job training in Wyandanch, Huntington Station and other poor communities “impressive.” But she inquired about people who aren’t qualified or don’t want to work at biotech startups and drug companies, which have received a lot of local attention.
“So, what are we doing for the people who don’t fit into that sector?” Reardon said in Albany after council members made a pitch for more state tax credits and grants. “What are the job pipelines that you are developing outside of the glittering ones?”
Local council member Pat Edwards, community development vice president at Citigroup, said the council is backing training programs in agriculture, health care, information technology, manufacturing, retailing and tourism.
She cited a veterans’ resource center planned for Suffolk County Community College and proposed recruitment of Hempstead Village and Uniondale residents for work at the redeveloped Nassau Hub. Both initiatives were among 112 recommended last month by the local council for state funding.
“We want to help those who don’t fit into the bio sector,” she added.
Edwards was among four local council members and the Westbury mayor who gave a presentation to the seven-member judging panel.
The LI council is vying with nine others across the state in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s annual contest for up to $750 million in business aid.
The local council has been a big winner four out of five times, securing $424.5 million for 468 projects. The projects have attracted $2.8 billion from investors and other levels of government, and they have secured more than 18,000 jobs.
Council co-vice chairman Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association business group, said the projects put forward this year will match every $1 of state money with $10 from elsewhere. That’s better than the state requirement of $5 of other funding to match every $1 of state money, he said.
The council tells aid applicants, Law said, “ ‘You stand a much better chance if you cough up more of your own money.’ ”
Panel member Sabrina Ty, CEO of the state Environmental Facilities Corp., said, “Your leverage numbers are definitely impressive.”
Panel members also praised the council for backing a $3 million expansion of the LGBT Network’s Patch ogue facility to include job training and health care.
“You made it kind of front and center of your presentation,” Secretary of State Rosanna Rosado said. “I commend you, and I hope that sets an example for the other regions” of the state.