January 15, 2015

Picente Statement On Governor Cuomo’s $1.5 Billion Dollar Upstate Revitalization Fund

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“I am a strong believer in collaborative approaches to economic development – because the success of a business owner in one part of Oneida can easily translate to jobs or economic activity in another part of the State. That’s why I am very excited about Governor Cuomo’s proposal to create a new $1.5 billion economic development competition just for Upstate regions like Oneida County. It’s a great way to boost local businesses and make our communities more competitive in the private sector. I strongly encourage our local legislators to help the Governor make this new competition part of the State’s 2015 budget.” –Anthony J. Picente Jr.

Press Release below from the Governor’s office on today’s historic announcement:



Re: $1.5 Billion Competition to Revitalize Upstate New York's Economy

Date: January 15, 2014

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today presented the second piece of his "2015 Opportunity Agenda" – a $1.5 billion Upstate New York Economic Revitalization Competition to restore economic opportunity to regions across Upstate New York.

This competition will replicate the successful Buffalo Billion initiative, a bottom-up, regionally-driven program to jumpstart the Western New York economy, and use that model to drive community revitalization, job growth, and population sustainability in major upstate urban centers.

Instead of focusing on one city, however, this competition will target investment to a set of economically distressed metropolitan areas and focus on projects that will strengthen critical infrastructure, revitalize communities, bolster workforce development, grow tourism, and improve quality of life. The competition will combine the expertise and structure of the Regional Economic Development Councils with successful elements of the Buffalo Billion to develop regional investment plans that identify existing assets, highlight needs and recommend areas of opportunity.

Seven regions are eligible to compete for one of three $500 million upstate revitalization funds: Mid-Hudson, Capital Region, Mohawk Valley, Central New York, North Country, Southern Tier and Finger Lakes.

Governor Cuomo has appointed Richard Tobe, currently Deputy Erie County Executive, to serve as Director of Upstate Revitalization and lead the efforts of the competition. Mr. Tobe will be transitioning out of his current position in order to assume this new role.

The competition and process for winning upstate revitalization funds will also be guided by a five-member Strategic Plan Review Committee comprised of:

  •  Bruce Katz, Brookings Institution
  • Marc Morial, President, National Urban League
  • Cesar Perales, New York Secretary of State
  •  RoAnn Destito, Commissioner, Office of General Services
  • Susan Christopherson, Professor and Chair of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

Upstate regions have experienced an economic decline in recent decades. Governor Cuomo has made reviving the Upstate economy a significant focus through programs such as the Regional Economic Development Councils, tourism investments, targeted support for niche industries like yogurt and beverages, and nanotechnology research and development. However, Upstate cities still require coordinated plans and new resources to fulfill infrastructure needs, achieve targeted job creation, and maintain a high quality of life that will sustain their populations.

In 2012, recognizing the potential for growth in what was Buffalo’s deteriorating economy, Governor Cuomo unveiled the Buffalo Billion to attract new jobs and investment to the area and create new energy and excitement about the region's future. The initiative was based on three principles: extensive community engagement, leveraging unique strengths, and identifying game changing investments.

Three years later, Western New York’s economy has rebounded with:

  • $11.3 billion in regional private investment;
  • 3,772 jobs and 812 new firms moved into the area;
  • 4 % increase in total regional wages.

Because the challenges faced by Upstate cities and solutions for revitalizing them vary, the Upstate New York Revitalization Competition will provide an opportunity for a range of projects to be eligible for funding. Awards will be primarily given as grants, but existing tax credits and loan programs may supplement or replace certain awards where appropriate. Awards for major infrastructure projects will be limited to those with a catalytic impact on community revitalization.

Between now and April, regions will plan and engage parties interested in participating in the competition, which will formally launch on April 15th. Submissions will be due July 1stand winners will be announced in the fall.

Oneida County Partners