Stony Brook University president Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. listens...

Stony Brook University president Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. listens as business and labor leaders express support for a cancer center to be built at the university. He is flanked by sketches of the building. (June 7, 2011) Credit: Steve Pfost

Long Island business and community leaders gathered Tuesday morning to support Stony Brook University's recent proposal to build a cancer care center and increase faculty hiring and student enrollment.

The initiative depends on a $35-million grant from the state as part of the New York-SUNY 2020 plan and an 8 percent tuition increase -- pending approval from the State Legislature.

If Stony Brook receives grant money for the new center, it will create 4,200 new construction jobs, Stony Brook president Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said.

In addition, the university plans to hire 245 faculty members, 368 staff and graduate students and 80 clinicians if the initiative is accepted, Stanley said. And according to Stony Brook's grant application, 1,000 additional jobs in research and academia could be created.

Stanley, along with Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association, and Jimmy Castellane, president of the Nassau-Suffolk Building and Construction Trades Council, spoke in support of the plan.

"Stony Brook is the largest single site employer of Long Island, employing more than 14,000 individuals," Law said. "So [as] Stony Brook's economic health goes, so [goes] the economic health of Long Island -- the two are inextricably linked."

Construction employment is particularly dire, as Castellane -- who represents over 65,000 construction workers in Nassau and Suffolk counties -- noted that the industry in Long Island faces a 30 percent unemployment rate.

Castellane described Stony Brook as an "economic engine" that will jump-start Long Island businesses. "In case anybody didn't know, I'd like to tell you that construction workers love to spend money . . . When they have the paycheck, they spend it and it goes out to the community," he said.

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