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Southern Tier Regional Economic Council Eyes $500 Million Prize

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Governor Cuomo's plan to award $500 million in economic development money to three of seven upstate regions has the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council sharpening it's plan to win a half-billion dollar prize.

This competition overlaps the Regional Economic Development Council competition - which has seen the Southern Tier emerge as a top performer three years in a row.

"The $500 million is going to be more of a plan. It's going to be a strategy," said Binghamton University President and STREDC Co-Chair Harvey Stenger.

"We've been winning a lot of money from the competition already. What they described today is that they want long-term plans that can build on what we're doing," said NYS Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-123rd District).

A representative from Empire State Development explained to the group today that it's looking for transformative projects that would lead to jobs above the area's average wage, and be start-up and university-based.

"China, people go there to manufacture. Ireland, they go there to manufacture. Why could the Southern Tier not be kind of that country where people migrate to and start their manufacturing," said Stenger.

The plan to divide $1.5 billion between three upstate regions still has to pass the state legislature during upcoming budget negotiations. Some lawmakers are balking at three upstate regions splitting the big prize while four others see nothing.

"We've heard from a lot of our constituents who are not comfortable with what they describe as The Hunger Games approach where there are three winners and four losers. We may very well want to support transformative projects for all of the regions," said Lupardo.

But the competition is likely to remain in some form, leaving the Southern Tier Council to take nothing for granted.

"Are we a favorite in this process, people said, because we didn't get fracking, we didn't get the casino? Are we a favorite in the process? Don't start thinking like that. Never go into a competition where you think you're the favorite. Chances are you're going to lose," said Stenger.


****In Vestal, Jason Weinstein, FOX 40 HD News****