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Cuomo says upstate will have to compete for state aid

Governor Andrew Cuomo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his plan for an Upstate New York Economic Revitalization Competition in Rochester Thursday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to invest $1.5 billion to help the struggling upstate economy, but there’s a catch -- regions will have to compete for the money.

Cuomo says his budget plan will include an upstate revitalization fund, but it won’t be distributed to all of the state’s economically depressed regions. Instead, the seven regions will be competing for a share of the funds. The rules are: only three will receive grants of $500 million each.

“Why the competition?” Cuomo asked rhetorically. “Because I believe in competition.”

The governor says if he just gave the localities the money they would not do the hard work.

Cuomo already gave the city of Buffalo, the largest upstate city, a non-competitive award of $1 billion during his first term. He says that Buffalo had the worst economy in the state and the investment turned that around.  

The contest begins in April, with applications due July 1. The winners would be announced in the fall, as part of the existing Regional Economic Development Council awards program.

The legislature first needs to approve the program.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.