In 2019 plan, LIREDC ‘doubles down’ on what works

Making it work: The Long Island Regional Development Council will look to rebound after winning "only" $68.5 million in Albany's 2018 REDC competition.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

From the If It Ain’t Broke file comes the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, which covers proven ground in its annual progress report/wish list to the Empire State Development Corp.

Meeting ESD’s yearly Oct. 1 submission deadline, the LIREDC slapped a new title on its 2019 report (“Long Island: Breaking Down Barriers”) but filled it with a familiar mix of success stories and future ambitions, largely focused on the Island’s key industries – biotech, tourism and manufacturing chief among them.

That’s not to disparage the report, a Herculean 140-page effort expertly prepared by the LIREDC and professionally produced by LMN Printing Co. of Valley Stream – and jam-packed with a tale of socioeconomic renewal that may be well-known by now, but still borders on the incredible.

The LIREDC, a five-time “top performer” over the first eight rounds of ESD’s annual Regional Economic Development Council competition, has so far won $638.3 million in funding for 791 regional projects – including past “priority projects” such as the Wyandanch Rising and Ronkonkoma Hub redevelopment efforts, new Adelphi University and Brookhaven National Laboratory laboratories and a multitude of private-industry investments.

Kevin Law: All in.

And the regional council has used the cash exactly how Albany drew it up: 33,000 jobs created or retained since 2011, project-specific private investments outpacing the state funds at a 12-to-1 clip and 81 percent of all funded projects “complete or on schedule,” according to “Breaking Down Barriers.”

“The Long Island regional council has brought together experts from industry, nonprofits and academia to develop data-driven plans that have helped make our region a better place to work, live and play,” noted LIREDC Co-chairman Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association. “This year, we will continue those efforts and support inclusive economic development, ensuring that Long Islanders in every community can share in our growing economy.”

In addition to spreading around the good fortune, the LIREDC – which earned “only” $68.5 million in the 2018 round – is looking to recapture its “top performer” status. To that end, its comprehensive plan quotes everything from The New York Times to Bob Dylan, flavoring the Island’s greatest economic-development hits with the distinct taste of innovation.

An “Innovation Imperative,” actually – one of several components included in the “Breaking Down Barriers” strategy, which also details the region’s “Child Care Challenge” and “Environmental Justice Imperative,” as well as its need for “The Workforce of Tomorrow, Today” and other socioeconomic obligations.

The 2019 report includes 41 priority projects designed to “advance the region’s growth objectives,” according to the LIREDC, including $300,000 for a new Center for Laser Assisted Manufacturing at Stony Brook University; $1 million for Biocogent, an SBU-based biotech ready to grow beyond the incubator; $2 million for a new Hofstra University nursing laboratory; and $1.36 million for main terminal renovations at the Town of Islip’s Long Island MacArthur Airport.

Stuart Rainowitz: Thinking ahead.

Also on the LIREDC’s 2019 priority list is $300,000 to help the East End Food Institute establish a commercial kitchen for early-stage food companies; $2 million to help a startup convert a vacant Port Washington building into a six-stage television- and movie-production studio; and $5 million toward Farmingdale State College’s new $53 million applied sciences building, among other projects.

All told, the ninth round of the annual REDC competition will award up to $750 million in state funding and tax incentives, including $150 million in capital grants, $75 million in Excelsior Tax Credits and another $525 million through various state-agency programs. Of the state’s 10 economic zones, five “top performers” will share $100 million in ESD capital-grant funding, with $50 million in capital grants shared by the lower five.

Each region will also receive up to $10 million to implement projects identified through its indigenous Downtown Revitalization Initiative, while additional projects submitted as part of each regional wish list will be eligible for that remaining $525 million in parallel-program funding.

The competition, as always, will be fierce – but with its impressive annual report leading the way, the LIREDC is expecting get back to the top, according to Co-chairman Stuart Rabinowitz.

“Over the last eight years, our regional council has worked to support Long Island’s legacy industries while investing in new sectors that will power our economy for years to come,” the Hofstra University president added. “Now, we are doubling down on those strategies and trying to help build the modern, walkable communities that will attract and retain the next generation of Long Islanders.”