NEW WINDSOR—Stewart International Airport hosted Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and the state’s Strategic Implementation Assessment Team on Aug. 18 in the first leg of several stops in the Hudson region to highlight success stories in economic development.
Howard Zemsky, co-chair of Empire State Development, introduced the group to economic successes at Stewart. Zemsky said Stewart has great potential “not only for passenger service but great potential in the area of cargo.”
The lieutenant governor supports more passenger flights as she joked Stewart could have worked better for her flight from Buffalo. She had to go through LaGuardia, where her transfer almost made her late. She said economic councils do best when locals say what’s needed for development. “Let us work with you to capitalize on that.”
Stewart holds several qualities for economic development, Hochul said: “Its proximity to a large metropolitan area known as New York City, but also its majestic beauty—the [Catskill] mountains, the hills, the [Hudson] river.”
Ed Harrison, the Port Authority’s manager of the airport, touted what is happening now and what is coming to the airport.
Developments at Stewart
Harrison announced the New York Air Show which comes to the airport on Aug. 29-30. He called it the largest single commercial event in the airport’s history. Harrison estimates the event will have a five million dollar economic impact during the two days of the show.
The commercial benefit extends well into the future as he expects the airport to serve as an incubator for the aerospace industry. “We want to get that word out globally.”
Harrison said there will soon be an announcement that Stewart will be designated officially as a fourth New York Metropolitan airport. With many flights booked on the Internet, Stewart will be listed as an airport that passengers traveling to the New York City can use. “Stewart airport will soon be included in that dropdown of New York airports. That’s an incredible marketing opportunity for us.”
He drew the group’s attention to double doors that led out to the end of the building and said construction would begin next year to add a customs hall for international arrivals. Harrison also said there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony next month for a state-of-the-art crime lab for the state police.
The governor’s effort to increase cargo business at the airport will help the airport become profitable since planes need to carry cargo in their “belly” on passenger flights. Harrison said the core business of Stewart goes beyond commercial flights. Several corporate fleets have headquartered at the airport, among them Federal Express, General Electric, and Cessna Citations.
Jobs at the airport are always a priority. Harrison said the governor’s Aviation Jobs bill is keeping jobs here instead of having them go to other states.
The Strategic Implementation Assessment Team (SIAT) that accompanied the governor took a short bus tour of Stewart and surrounding properties to get a glimpse of future possibilities for economic development and actual commercial activity. Michael Torelli, building and property manager for the Port Authority, said the tour would show several enterprises that support jobs.
Among the highlights: A golf course at Stewart has been turned into the Northeast Industrial Center, which supports 1000 jobs on its campus; Federal Express has recently upgraded its facilities with parking lots filled with trucks, planes, and buildings.
The biggest improvement for Stewart’s future development has been the interconnection of Interstates 84 and 87, which “opened up a wealth of properties to easy access,” Torelli said.
Economic Development Council
SIAT members who attended the event included Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales, Department of Taxation and Finance Commissioner Thomas H. Mattox, Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito and others who saw first-hand the progress of the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) for the Mid-Hudson region.
After the tour of Stewart, the group went on to Beacon to see the progress made in the community due to state financing and then to Marist College’s Cloud Computing center.
According to the REDC website, SIAT will review and assess each region’s progress. SIAT is expected to develop “Innovation Hot Spots” to facilitate tech transfer, develop an agenda to revitalize distressed communities, address barriers to entry into the workforce for people living in areas of concentrated poverty, and engage local officials in reshaping the regional business climate.
In a second round of funding granted by Empire State Development, the state has $1.5 billion in investments issued through REDCs to support more than 1,400 economic and community development projects. The programs must be consistent with each region’s strategic plans.
Applications for a third round of funding are now being considered. “Funding for the third round includes $220 million ($150 million in capital and $70 million in tax credits) to implement regional strategic plans and continue to advance priority job-creating projects,” according to the REDC website.
One purpose of SIAT’s tour through the Mid-Hudson region was to evaluate projects that have applied for the third round of grants.
For this round of grants, the main criterion for funding will be either projects for urban renewal, or those that promote regional industry and innovation clusters.
Governor Cuomo established the regional councils and Consolidated Funding Application to fundamentally change New York’s operating model for economic development and job creation.
The councils shifted development from a top-down approach to a “a community-based, performance-driven model which empowers individual regions to develop, invest in, and advance regional solutions and job-creating projects to spur economic growth,” the REDC website said.
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