Finger Lakes region big winner in economic development funds

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 December 2015 at 12:00 am

STAMP project could get boost from $500 million in Upstate initiative

Orleans County is part of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council which was approved for $500 million in state funds on Thursday, one of three regions in the state that will share $1.5 billion in the Upstate Revitalization Initiative.

The state created 10 regional economic development councils to compete for funds about five years ago. With the new Upstate initiative, only three will receive funding. Besides the Finger Lakes region, the Southern Tier and Central NY were approved for $500 million each.

Jim Whipple, chief executive officer for the Orleans Economic Development Agency, said the $500 million will go towards larger projects in the region.

“It’s not for the nuts and bolts of economic development,” he said.

He expects some of the money will go towards advancing the STAMP site in the Town of Alabama, just south of Orleans County. That high-tech site includes 1,250 acres.

In announcing the Finger Lakes as a $500 million winner, state officials said it wants to build on the Rochester area as national Institute for Manufacturing Innovation focusing on field of integrated photonics, for which the State has committed $250 million in support.

The Finger Lakes Region’s plan consists of three industry clusters, or pillars, that will act as the core drivers of job and output growth: Optics, Photonics, and Imaging; Agriculture and Food Production, and Next Generation Manufacturing and Technology.

“I am extremely excited and proud to announce that the Finger Lakes region was a winner of the Upstate Revitalization Initiative,” said State Assemblyman Steve Hawley. “Economic Development is extremely important in New York State and our potential for job growth, innovation and expansion in science and technology and new businesses is at an all-time high. I look forward to working with local officials, developers and businesses to make my Assembly District the crown jewel of the Finger Lakes region.”

The state identified the following as top projects for the Finger Lakes region:

Sibley Building Phase II – $3,500,000 award from state
This $65 million project represents the second phase portion of a comprehensive, $200 million redevelopment strategy for the 1.1 million square-foot historic Sibley department store building in downtown Rochester, across from the new transit center. Phase II will include the development of 96 market rate and middle-income apartment units, 34,000 square-feet of Class A office space, 10,000 square-feet of retail space, retail pushcarts, an urban farmers market, and 150 underground parking spaces.

University of Rochester Goergen Institute for Data Science – $1,000,000
The University of Rochester adopted data science as its top priority in its 2013-2018 Strategic Plan and announced a $50 million effort – in addition to $50 million in previous investments – to create an internationally distinguished Institute for Data Science. The University seeks to leverage $25 million in private support already raised to construct a new 60,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility that will be the academic home for the New York State Center of Excellence in Data Science and build upon existing University infrastructure and strengths, such as the Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation.

Energy Storage Ecosystem Resources – Safety Testing and Cylindrical Cell Prototyping – $2,000,000
This project entails fitting up space at Eastman Business Park, including the purchase and installation of equipment required to perform safety testing and certification for energy storage devices at the BEST Test Commercialization Center (BTCC) and to provide cylindrical cell prototyping capabilities at the Battery Prototyping Center on the campus of the Rochester Institute of Technology. The proposed expansion to the BTCC includes modifications to facilities to fit up an additional 4,000 square-feet of specialized laboratory space and additional equipment that will allow for safety testing for individual cells and battery packs.