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Cuomo’s economy czar pays visit to Queens College

Photo by Aisha Hassan
By Joe Anuta

One of the state’s top economic advisers spoke at a Queens College breakfast last week where he discussed several borough businesses that have taken advantage of millions in grant money, although Queens as a whole still lags behind other counties.

Kenneth Adams, president and chief operating officer at the Empire State Development Corp., took to the podium at the college’s Student Union Building last Friday to explain the ways the Cuomo administration is helping to spur economic growth from Long Island City to Albany.

“New York state is in a good spot competitively,” he said, touting the region’s $1.14 trillion economy, which puts it on roughly equal footing with South Korea.

One initiative spearheaded by Cuomo is the public authority’s Regional Economic Development Councils, which address economic concerns across 10 separate areas of the state.

The state has always doled out money for development grants, currently about $765 million, according to Adams. But before the creation of the councils, money was dispersed through individual agencies, which made pinpointing the cash difficult for businesses hoping to receive an economic shot in the arm.

“If you had a project, you didn’t know where to go,” he said.

Now all the funds are poured into the councils, which dispense money on behalf of about 17 agencies.

The streamlined process has been a boon to several Queens companies, which applied for money last year and are now putting it to good use.

Shapeways, a 3-D printing company in Long Island City, received cash, according to Adams, along with the Trust for Public Land, which will undertake a feasibility study for a linear park proposed along an abandoned stretch of Long Island Rail Road track.

The Queens Chamber of Commerce also received cash to develop an app for the borough, which it unveiled a few days later at the United States Tennis Association’s Billie Jean King Tennis Center.

The program will relay information about restaurants, cultural institutions and other attractions to visitors attending major sporting events in the borough, such as the US Open and events at Citi Field.

“We thought this was a great idea,” Adams said, “so New York Regional Council drove funding for an app.”

According to a list of 2012 grant recipients, the Queens Chamber of Commerce received a $100,000 grant from the corporation.

But the borough lagged behind two other city counties when it came to grant money procured by the state.

Discounting citywide projects, Queens received $2.8 million in state grants. While that number was larger than the Bronx’s $1.3 million, Queens received a fraction of Manhattan’s grant money at $6.8 million and comparatively less still than Brooklyn’s $10.6 million.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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