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Community Leaders Select Priorities for Economic Development Money

Community leaders from across our region gathered today to select their priorities when asking the state for economic development money.
Community leaders from across the region gathered today to select their priorities when asking the state for economic development money.

The Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council met at Binghamton University Thursday.

It chose 28 out of 50 proposals they received for capital projects that will create jobs in the Binghamton, Elmira and Ithaca areas.

In all, $25 million is being requested.

Council co-chair and B.U. President Harvey Stenger said that to succeed in the competitive process, the eight counties of the Southern Tier have to form a good team.

"Whether it's Steuben or Chemung or Broome, if we can pull ourselves together as a great team, write a great report, update our strategic plan, then put projects together that make sense, that work together, we have a better chance of being that $25 million award winner, top performer," said Stenger.

A number of projects selected are based in the City of Binghamton, including a proposal by Broome County and the Newman Development Group to transform the vacant former Sheraton Hotel at 50 Front Street into upscale apartments.

The City itself succeeded in its application for half a million dollars to build a mixed-use structure at 70 Court Street in conjunction with Greater Binghamton Development.

However, its request for $7.7 million to help Newman Development and the city create a public-private partnership in replacing the Collier Street parking ramp was not recommended by the council.

"This is a solid project that can move forward this year. We certainly were asking for a lot. It probably was the most significant amount, if not the highest amount asked of any project. But, it also leverages approximately $38 million dollars in private money," said Mayor Rich David.

Mayor David said its still possible that Empire State Development will fund the ramp project as the REDC's selection only counts toward 20 percent of the state's scoring formula for awarding grants.

Thursday's slate of chosen projects will still need to be approved by the state in a competitive process. The next step will be a visit by the site review team in early fall.

This year's awards ceremony in Albany is expected to take place in October rather than December.

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