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LI pitches for state development funds

Hofstra University president Stuart Rabinowitz on June 14,

Hofstra University president Stuart Rabinowitz on June 14, 2012. He is also a co-chair of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council. Credit: Ed Betz

The Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, citing the region's aging infrastructure and population, on Monday made its formal pitch in Albany for $36 million in state development funding.

"The region is in a period of economic transition," said Stuart Rabinowitz, the council's co-chair and president of Hofstra University. "We have an aging population. Our young people are fleeing in record numbers. We have an even older infrastructure."

The Long Island council is seeking funding for 43 company expansions and educational and building projects including sewer projects in Suffolk County ($4 million), a commercial building for the Wyandanch Rising urban renewal project ($2.5 million), and equipment at Stony Brook University's Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology to study how to avert cyber-attacks on the energy grid ($2.5 million).

The council's presentation to the state's Strategic Implementation Assessment Team included a performance by jazz guitarist Stephen Salerno, who played on strings made by D'Addario & Co., a Farmingdale company that received state tax credits in an earlier round of the annual competition.

"We try to do something to stand out," Kevin Law, co-chair of the council and president of the Long Island Association, said afterward. "The goal is to use some state dollars to leverage private dollars. A lot of our money goes for infrastructure projects like sewers and roads because those are pricey."

For instance, in one project, $500,000 in state funding would be earmarked to realign roads as part of an $11.9 million project to create a sports and entertainment center next to a renovated Nassau Coliseum.

In the presentation, Rabinowitz cited the exodus of businesses from Long Island, including major defense companies whose high-paying jobs were never replaced.

The presentation marks the fourth annual competition for state funds among 10 regions. Since Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo established the contest in 2011, Long Island has landed more than $244 million -- the third highest total, behind $274.7 million for the North Country region and $264.4 million for Central New York.

In October, Cuomo is expected to announce which five regions deemed "top performers" will get the largest funding.

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