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Governor Andrew Cuomo announced early in his term that he'd be creating a set of "regional economic councils" to build plans for funding economic development across New York, from the ground up.In the summer of 2011 he finally announced some of the details of the program, to be led by Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy. The ten councils each have dozens of members, and are charged with gathering input from the public and business leaders, and creating a plan by November 14. Those plans will be pitted against each other for a pot of $1 billion in grants, incentives, and tax relief from various state agencies. The winners will get more funding, the losers will get less.But other details - like whether funding will be available past the initial term, and who will serve on the board that decides who wins and who loses - have not been released.The Innovation Trail is looking for your feedback about what your regional economic priorities are, and what you want your community to look like once the councils have completed their task.

Cuomo racks up sixth Regional Council visit

Using a now-familiar travel routine, Governor Andrew Cuomo made his sixth tour of New York regions to monitor the progress of projects funded through the Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC). 

It was the first visit undertaken since Hurricane Sandy devastated large areas of downstate New York, New Jersey and other coastal areas in the Northeast.

In the tour today, centered around the western New York city of Rochester, Cuomo visited projects supported through the Finger Lakes REDC including the Port of Rochester, the Eastman Business Park and the Midtown Tower construction site.

He also reviewed formal presentations on other projects.

In response to a question about the Eastman Business Park:

"As you heard (on the tour) I think the [Eastman Business] Park (is) has a challenge, we all know what’s going on with Kodak and we understand the reality of the situation, so there’s a challenge to it (but) there’s also a great opportunity there because it’s a great facility. The discussion today about how do you reposition the city, how do you re-imagine the city…we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the good old days, what we used to do; we haven’t spent enough time talking about what to do in the future."

"And we understand what the park was, and we understand the history of the park, and now how do you make the park a place for future businesses. And the state is 100 percent supportive of that in any way possible. We’re going to follow the lead of the city and the region, and that’s what the process is all about."

Speaking on the issue of downtown development:

"The challenge of the center city is not unique to Rochester, it’s a phenomenon all across the country…we have older cities, medium-sized cities where the inside of the donut hole (as they say) emptied out and people moved out to the suburbs…now the problem’s actually the reverse – how do you redevelop the center city. How do you now reverse that and bring people back in. The people who are moving back in are the usual groups, young people and older people. One of the, I think, long-term challenges is improving the education system in the center of cities so that people don’t move out to the suburbs in search of better schools."

Cuomo also compared the mutual support shown for downstate New York after Hurricane Sandy, with the assistance provided to areas of upstate New York following Hurricane Irene.

WXXI/Finger Lakes Reporter for the Innovation Trail
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