The Finger Lakes region has won one of three $500 million awards from the state "hunger games" competition. The other two are the Southern Tier and Central New York. The Upstate Revitalization Initiative is supposed to help regions rev up their economies, and the award will be paid out in $100 million annual installments over five years.
The four regions that do not win the URI will share $50 million that Governor Andrew Cuomo will add to next year's budget.
The winners are being announced this morning in Albany.
Local leaders predicted that our region would win -- there has been a sense of inevitability to the proceedings -- but there was also worry that we'd mucked up our chances by squabbling over the location of the headquarters for the $600 million federal photonics institute.
The dispute resolved rather quickly -- the headquarters will be in Legacy Tower -- but the blow-up was public and embarrassing and gave the impression that Rochester may not be ready for the golden opportunity handed to it.
But that's in the past. Now it's time to figure out how to spend the money.
Seven Upstate regions made pitches for the awards, focusing on how they'd invest the state-provided bonanza more so than the specific projects they'd fund. The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council emphasized three industries in its application: agricultural and food production, high-tech manufacturing, and photonics and optics.
The council chose industries that are uniquely able to grow in the region. Those three areas are already woven into the local economy, experts say, and could spur substantial growth here.
The Finger Lakes Council will next accept applications for specific projects to fund with the money, and then review and prioritize them.