The annual New York State Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) awards were announced today in Albany. Of the $763 million in economic and community development funding allocated to 10 competing regions, the Southern Tier received $65.4 million to help nearly 100 local projects, 11 of which are in Chemung County.    

The purpose of this post is to provide background about REDC and details about the local projects that have received funding. 

What is REDC?

10 Councils were created in 2011 by Governor Cuomo to help develop long-term strategic plans for regional-specific economic growth. The Councils are public-private partnerships wherein elected and non-elected leaders identify ways to help grow their economies while competing for funds that are awarded by New York state each year just before Christmas.

Often criticized as promoting a Hunger Games-sytle or pay-to-play approach to economic growth, the Councils are increasingly tasked with showing a relationship between the money they receive and sustainable job growth in order to justify the huge outlay of tax dollars. Many of these criticisms were addressed in a thorough investigative article by the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle published in June, 2017 and found here

Specifically, the REDC website, found here, states the program’s goals are:

  • Identifying projects for the state’s burgeoning life sciences cluster;
  • Identifying workforce development strategies, including collaboration with industry and educational institutions;
  • Implementing strategies through the project pipeline; and
  • Measuring the performance and progress of the strategic plan.

Where are the Councils located?

The map below shows the geographic boundaries of all ten Councils:

How much money is awarded?

This graph shows how much money, totaling more than $1.5 billion in taxpayer money, was awarded to each Council in 2017 and 2018: 

Full reports showing specifically where the money came from and went can be found here (2017) and here (2018), and the video embedded below shows the 2018 awards being announced today:

Who is on the STREDC Board?

The Southern Tier’s Regional Economic Development Council (STREDC) is led by a Board of Directors comprised of the following individuals:

Regional Director Donna Howell

Regional Co-Chair Dr. Harvey Stenger President, Binghamton University

Regional Co-Chair Tom TranterPresident & CEO of Corning Enterprises

Regional Council Members:

  • Dr. Kathryn Boor Dean of College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Cornell University
  • Kathryn Connerton President & CEO, Lourdes Hospital
  • Martin A. Dietrich President & CEO, NBT Bank
  • Peg Ellsworth Executive Director, MARK Project Inc. 
  • Mike Field CEO, The Raymond Corporation 
  • Betsey HalePresident, 3 Rivers Development Corp.
  • Ernest Hartman Business Manager, IBEW Local 139
  • Mike Krusen President, Southern Tier Economic Growth, Inc.
  • Michael Laliberte President, SUNY Delhi
  • Barbara Lifton State Assembly, 125th District 
  • Judy McKinney-Cherry Executive Director, SCOPED
  • Kevin McLaughlin Executive Director, Broome County IDA
  • Tom O’Mara State Senate, 58th District
  • Mary George Opperman Vice President of Human Resources, Cornell University
  • Michael Printup President, Watkins Glen International Speedway
  • Barbara J. Schindler President & COO, Golden Artists Colors, Inc.
  • Linda M. Shumaker President, Shumaker Engineering & Surveying, P.C.
  • Daniel SpoorVice President, Lockheed Martin Systems Integration 
  • LeeAnn Tinney Director of Economic Development & Planning for Tioga County 
  • Stephen TrichkaVice President and General Manager, BAE Systems

Ex-Officio Regional Council Members:

  •  Rich David Binghamton, Mayor
  • Dennis Fagan Schuyler, Chair of County Legislature
  • Jason Garnar Broome, County Executive
  • Joseph Hauryski Steuben, Chair of County Legislature
  • Martha Robertson Tompkins, Chair of County Legislature
  • Dan Mandell Mayor, Elmira
  • Tina Molé Delaware, Chair of County Legislature
  • Svante Myrick Ithaca, Mayor
  • Thomas Santulli Chemung, County Executive
  • Martha Sauerbrey Tioga, Chair of County Legislature
  • Rose Sotak Union, Supervisor
  • Lawrence WilcoxChenango, Chair of County Legislature

Which projects in Chemung County and nearby municipalities received STREDC awards in 2018?

The list below shows all of the Southern Tier projects that received funding in 2018. It can also be found on pages 37-48 of the 2018 REDC Report, found here.

Of significant note, the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) was awarded a $3,000,000 grant to construct a two story, 52,000 foot building in downtown Elmira to serve as its local campus. There is wide speculation that LECOM will officially announce plans to break ground on this project in light of the award.  

As I mentioned at the start, the purpose of this post is to provide an overview of REDC, as the program is likely to come under scrutiny yet again. Is this a good way to bring about sustainable growth? Maybe, as an infusion of cash into our struggling economy may be what we need.

However, these are staggering figures for one of the highest taxed states in the country.  As I continue to digest just how difficult it is to operate an upstate county with so many requirements passed down from Albany, I can’t help but wonder if this is the best use of our funds. As always, please join in the discussion here or on Facebook.    

Christina Sonsire