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State to speed up building grants to boost economy

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Hochul, chairwoman of the Regional

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Hochul, chairwoman of the Regional Economic Development Council, is flanked by Long Island REDC vice chaimen Stuart Rabinowitz and Kevin Law. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The awarding of $150 million in state grants this year to major building projects is being accelerated to help revive the economy, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced.

He said Empire State Development, the state’s primary business-aid agency, will distribute some of its grant money in phases instead of all at once at year-end. Recipients will be recommended by the 10 Regional Economic Development Councils across the state, which Cuomo appointed in 2011.

Developers and governments with projects that can be started quickly and will have a broad impact on the community, including job creation, may apply online at apps.cio.ny.gov/apps/cfa.

The $150 million in ESD grants have been awarded annually between 2011 and 2019, with recipients announced in a December ceremony in the state capital. However, this year recipients will be named on a rolling basis to spur the economic recovery, Cuomo said.

"We’ve done this before and it’s worked tremendously well, but it’s more important this year than ever before because the stakes are higher this year than ever before," he said.

Members of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council agreed on Thursday, predicting a flood of grant applications.

"If I were an applicant, I'd apply early," said Jim Morgo, a council member and development consultant, during the council's virtual meeting.

John Durso, president of the Long Island Federation of Labor, an umbrella group of unions, added, "There are a lot of shovel-ready projects that could use this money."

Long Island, like each of the state's 10 regions, may receive up to $20 million in ESD grants, according to Alison Walsh, who oversees the regional development councils for ESD. She said the grant can only cover 20% of a project's total cost.

Additional regional state aid

Besides the ESD grants, more than $500 million in tax credits and other funding from 10 state agencies will be distributed via this year’s competition among the 10 councils. The application deadline for this aid is July 30 at 4 p.m., Walsh said.

A webinar series about each state agency’s funding programs may be found at regionalcouncils.ny.gov/2021-webinars.

In addition, ESD’s Long Island office will answer questions virtually between 10 a.m. and noon on Wednesday and on May 26, June 2, June 9, June 16, June 23 and June 30. To register, go to regionalcouncils.ny.gov/long-island.

Focus on jobs, day care

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Hochul, who serves as chairwoman of the 10 regional councils, urged the local council to nominate projects for state aid that will increase the availability of day care and retrain workers that lost jobs in the coronavirus-induced recession.

"Some jobs aren't coming back," she said on Thursday. "We need to focus more on workforce development."

The Long Island council has secured $727 million for 885 projects in nine funding competitions between 2011 and 2019, the second most after the Syracuse area.

The council is led by co-vice chairmen Kevin Law, a partner at developer Tritec Real Estate Co. in East Setauket, and Hofstra University president Stuart Rabinowitz.

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