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Long Island makes pitch for NY business aid

Members of the Long Island Regional Economic Development

Members of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, left, Doon Gibbs, Stuart Rabinowitz, center, and Kevin Law, right, make a presentation to the governor's panel for regional development during a hearing on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, in Albany. Credit: Hans Pennink

ALBANY -- Local leaders Thursday requested up to $105 million from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's administration for building projects and educational programs they said would boost the Long Island economy.

Members of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council identified the biotechnology industry and Huntington Station as meriting special attention from state government.

One promises to create good-paying jobs, while the other needs retraining programs to lift residents out of "poverty," council members said here.

The local council was the last of 10 across the state to make its pitch for state tax credits and grants to a judging panel of state agency commissioners, development experts and politicians.

Up to $750 million will be distributed in the fifth year of Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Councils contest. Long Island has been a big winner in three of the past four years, securing a total of $326.2 million for 347 projects. The 2015 winners will be announced by Dec. 31.

"We have sought to make big promises and to keep them," said council co-vice chairman Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association business group.

He said 85 percent of the projects funded in 2011-14 have been completed or are on schedule. They have attracted $2.4 billion in private investment and created or preserved 15,000 jobs.

"Long Island has the unique assets . . . to grow biotechnology jobs and to drive innovation in the economy," Law said, citing research centers such as Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Stony Brook University and North Shore-LIJ's Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.

Each council, at Cuomo's behest, was asked to identify one industry in need of the most help. No two regions can designate the same industry.

The Long Island council wants $8.5 million for nine "priority" biotech projects, including a proposed vaccine development center at Farmingdale State College and more labs at Stony Brook for startup businesses.

Council co-vice chairman Stuart Rabinowitz, president of Hofstra University, said the biotech industry employs more than 20,000 people in Nassau and Suffolk counties, from scientists and factory workers to salespeople.

"Our vision is not just high-powered research, but the production of goods as a result of that science," he said, addressing one judge's concern that investing in biotechnology would exclude many workers.

The judge, state General Service Commissioner RoAnn Destito, praised the Long Island council for steering $14.1 million to the Wyandanch Rising blight-removal project. In past years she pressed the council to include the poor and unskilled in its plans.

Council member Tracey A. Edwards, a Verizon region president, said the council wants more resources for Huntington Station to train the unemployed for careers in health care and to make homes more energy-efficient. "We cannot leave anybody behind," said Edwards, a Huntington Town councilwoman. "Everybody benefits when we lift up all parts of the community."


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