Just over two years ago, when I was invited to become a member of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council, I would have found it hard to believe that a group of 30 people would forge a strategic plan that - to date - has helped to attract more than $200 million in New York state funding to our region for nearly 200 projects that are already helping our businesses to expand, our employment to grow and our communities to rebuild.
These awards include important support for FAGE USA Dairy's expansion in Johnstown; upgrades to the Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility to accommodate the growth of dairy and food-processing; conversion of the former Tryon correctional facility into a business park; and, in Amsterdam, assistance for much-needed storm sewer system separation, help with the construction of a new Outpatient Pavilion St. Mary's Hospital, and incentives to establish a downtown Hampton Inn.
The largest of the Mohawk Valley Regional Council's priority projects has been support for what is now known as Nano Utica. There are essentially two parts to this transformational strategic undertaking: the construction of the Computer Chip Commercialization Center - or Quad C; and preparation of the adjacent 400-acre Marcy NanoCenter site as a future home for semi-conductor manufacturing. Nano Utica is being developed - and is affiliated with - the College for Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany.
Together, these investments will attract many billions of dollars in private investment and create thousands of well-paying jobs.
More profound, however, is the impact these investments will have on our local economies and in creating promising new opportunities for our children. With much foresight, Fulton-Montgomery Community College is already operating a sophisticated "clean room" to train students for the jobs that are already being created at CNSE in Albany, at GlobalFoundries near Saratoga and, soon, at Nano Utica.
When Gov. Cuomo created 10 regional councils in August of 2011, he sought leaders from business, academia, civic organizations and local elected leaders. Their first objective: to create comprehensive, strategic plans for economic and community development, complete with descriptions of how they would advance those strategies through real projects.
Through the Consolidated Funding Application, those who wish to propose strong, shovel-ready projects will have their single application reviewed by a long list of state agencies. This year brings with it a fourth round of New York state funding opportunities for projects consistent with the Mohawk Valley Regional Council's strategic plan and advance to advance our five "pillar" strategies, which are:
We are now on the eve of a fourth competitive round of funding, and we are anxious to work closely with businesses and governments in each of our region's six counties to identify regionally significant projects that will continue to strengthen and transform our economy. Our region's future has never looked brighter, and we look forward to another amazing year.
Mike Reese is president and CEO of Fulton County Center for Regional Growth and a member of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council. For more on regional councils, type "MVREDC" into your search engine.