January 23, 2012

Southern Tier Awarded $49 Million For Economic Development

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) awarded the Southern Tier region up to $49.4 million of a total $785 million in December in state aid designated to promote economic growth. The Southern Tier received the smallest amount of aid of the 10 regional councils vying for a portion of the funds.

In a press release issued Dec. 8, Cuomo said the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council, co-chared by President David Skorton, had demonstrated its objective to restore the region’s competitiveness on both a national and international scale.

The Southern Tier is composed of eight counties on or near the border of New York and Pennsylvania and includes the cities of Elmira, Corning, Binghamton and Ithaca.

“The Southern Tier Regional Council developed a vision for economic growth and job creation that builds upon the region’s strengths by promoting innovative collaborations in the areas of energy, transportation, health care, food and agriculture,” Cuomo said.

Of the total funding awarded to the Southern Tier, $4.8 million will be used to help neighborhoods hit by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in August and September, respectively. The state previously announced it will provide an additional $60 million to retain two major regional employers hurt by flooding — BAE Systems and Amphenol — in order to save an estimated 2,400 jobs.

Skorton and co-chair Tom Tranter, president of Corning Enterprises, said in a joint press release that the process of developing the plan united community leaders and residents of the Southern Tier.

“We are gratified that the governor selected the critical elements of our proposal,” Skorton said. “This was a rigorous and exhilarating undertaking and the result is a real boost for economic growth in our area.”

The state will give $2.5 million to the Regional Infrastructure Fund for Shovel Ready Sites, which provides funding for projects that can get started immediately. This hopes  to attract new business to the Southern Tier. According to the press release, the  infrastructure fund will use the money to match federal, state, municipal and private investments.

In addition, $1.8 million will be awarded to Wellsboro & Corning Railroad Co., a shortline railroad that operates between Wellsboro, Pa., and Corning, N.Y., to restore its main rail line and to reconstruct a second previously closed track. Cuomo said the grant would allow the railroad to “continue to provide timely, efficient and environmentally friendly service to rail commuters in the Southern Tier.”

Cuomo created the 10 regional economic councils in September to create strategies for improving New York State’s troubled economy using public funds. Of the $785 million awarded overall, $200 million will be distributed to targeted economic development projects of the state’s choosing within each regional council.

The development plan originally submitted by the Southern Tier council to New York State officials in November proposed an investment of $122 million over a five year period that the council said would result in 12,000 new jobs and save an additional 3,000 jobs.

The Southern Tier is composed of eight counties on or near the border of New York and Pennsylvania and includes the cities of Elmira, Corning, Binghamton and Ithaca.

“Regional collaborations and planning is a roadmap to get New Yorkers back to work,” Cuomo said. “The plans submitted by all 10 regions were truly extraordinary. For the first time, we are putting the power of the state government behind the innovation of our people, giving them the tools to rebuild our economy.”

Skorton said he believes Southern Tier officials and local stakeholders will continue to work together in the future to promote regional economic growth.

“I think we’ll be together and networked for the long haul,” Skorton said.

Original Author: David Marten