Funding for central NY upstate revitalization projects still a work in progress

Mar 8, 2017

More than a year ago, the central New York region was awarded $500 million over five years from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative. Some critics say the money has not yet gone to some of the region’s big projects.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner at a rally on Tuesday.
Credit Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said she is not satisfied because funding for a veterans complex, inland port and the city’s Say Yes to Education program has not materialized.

“We in this community have seen far too many times, people come in and make these huge, grandiose announcements about transformational economic development," Miner said. "And that’s what’s happened here. It’s been over a year. Has there been transformational economic development on projects the URI, the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, said they were going to fund? No. There are half a dozen projects listed with jobs created and investments that were going to be made. It was all said in 2016 these were going to happen. We are now in 2017. Where are all these projects? Where are all these investments? How much money has been dispersed from the URI?”

Miner said the only project that has received money from the URI is a new facility for the LED lighting company SORRA.

Co-Chairman of the Central New York Regional Economic Council Rob Simpson said the URI money was not meant to be spent all in the first year.

“A lot of these protections are in place to protect taxpayers to ensure that program funds aren’t dispersed before companies, in particular, have actually met their job requirements,” Simpson said. "We had ideas and thoughts about what would be the most appropriate and the earliest investments that were made, some of those have come to fruition."

And he said there are some signs of progress, including a $20 million contract for Say Yes to Education, which provides college tuition to Syracuse school graduates.

“The only thing standing between that money being in a central New York bank account from where it is today is sign off from the office of the state comptroller,” Simpson said.

Simpson said locations are still being considered for the inland port, including in the town of Camillus and Oswego County.