Spitzer unveils plan for revitalizing upstate

BUFFALO – Gov. Eliot Spitzer put his $1 billion Upstate Revitalization Fund into more detail Wednesday, pledging hundreds of millions to upgrade economic infrastructure, agriculture and neighborhood housing during New York’s first-ever State of Upstate address at Buffalo State College.

The bulk of Spitzer’s proposed spending – $350 million – would go toward constructing economic development-ready sites, upgrading existing sites to meet today’s business standards and improving water, sewer and drainage systems. Part of that $350 million will also go toward a small business loan program, seed money for “incubator” businesses that can turn research at upstate institutions like Binghamton University into products and jobs, and a marketing campaign to encourage upstate trade with Canada.

Aside from economic development, the overall revitalization plan would create a $50 million agribusiness development fund, a second round of “City by City” development projects (the Charles Street Business Park in Binghamton and the Bresee’s Building in Oneonta both received this funding in 2007), $100 million in housing improvements, a $15 million fund for expanding broad-band Internet access, $100 million in bridge improvements and $80 million for state parks.

The $1 billion fund was based on feedback received after visits by Upstate Economic Development Director Dan Gunderson to each county, where he met with citizens and local leaders, Spitzer said.

Statewide, Spitzer also wants to create a bi-partisan commission to examine the cause of rising taxes, recommend plans for middle-class property tax relief and develop a cap for school taxes.

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