ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) - Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested Buffalo has been ignored by the state for too long, one reason he wants to provide a billion dollars to help launch new development in the Queen City.
In his State of the State message from Albany, Governor Cuomo said the state is ready to make a huge investment in Buffalo, believing the investment could leverage about $5 billion in private money.
"We believe in Buffalo. Let's put our money where our mouth is. We're ready to invest one billion dollars in an economic development package for the City of Buffalo to bring business back to Buffalo. We can rebuild Buffalo," said Governor Cuomo.
Mayor Byron Brown responded, "We know we have great projects in Buffalo, whether it's the growing Buffalo-Niagara Medical Campus, the canalside waterfront development project, Statler, Hotel Lafayette, reopening cars to Main Street."
Former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra watched the governor's message along with Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Len Lenihan.
"My hope is that when the dollars do become available that we decide each project based on their return on the taxpayer investment. So return on investment should be the key to determine which projects go forward here in western New York," argued Giambra.
Lenihan called Cuomo the right leader at the right time with an ability to bring opposing sides together.
"I think what Cuomo has shown in his first year in office is that Albany can work again. He can make Albany not only less dysfunctional, but productive," said Lenihan.
Mayor Brown stated, "This billion dollars certainly is the largest investment I've seen coming from government to the City of Buffalo probably in more than 50 years."
Some state lawmakers say the details still need to be fleshed out in terms of where the money will go - whether it will stay within Buffalo's borders or be shared with the suburbs.
State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer said, "Whether someone is working on Court Street in Buffalo or Main Street in Amherst, and whether that person is from Buffalo or Tonawanda, the important thing is create jobs."
"Certainly the devil is in the details, so we want to reserve judgment until we actually see what comes down the line. But overall I think it was a great message," added Assemblywoman Jane Corwin.
Assemblyman John Ceretto concluded, "We need to work together. We need to put political parties aside for the betterment of the people we serve."
Cuomo says the state incentives stretched out over several years will be used to draw employers the same way high-tech companies were attracted to the Albany area with tax breaks and grants.
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