Governor Cuomo Awards $55 Million Through NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program

September 16, 2014

From the Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an additional $55 million in funding for five innovative economic development projects as part of the third round of the competitive NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program. The program incentivizes bottom-up economic development projects that advance research opportunities around the State’s colleges and universities while also leveraging private sector investments and job creation. The projects being awarded funding today are located in Western New York, the Southern Tier, Central New York, the North County and the Mid-Hudson Valley.

“In today’s world, colleges and universities are more than just classrooms – they’re economic engines that are creating jobs and training the workforce of tomorrow,” Governor Cuomo said. “We launched the SUNY 2020 program to support advanced research opportunities and tap into this potential for growth, and the five projects receiving funding today are an example of how this strategy is creating new opportunities across the State. Today’s SUNY 2020 awards are an investment in our State’s future, and I look forward to seeing each of these innovative projects grow the economy for years to come.”

The Governor announced this round of grant funding during visits to the Syracuse Inner Harbor Boathouse in Onondaga County and SUNY New Paltz in Ulster County.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said, “Three consecutive years of unprecedented SUNY 2020 funding exemplifies Governor Cuomo's commitment to executing a strategic economic development plan that links SUNY with the private sector to create jobs and produce the skilled workforce New York needs. SUNY 2020 awards and START UP NY are building SUNY's research infrastructure, improving the business climate, and producing unparalleled educational and career opportunities for our students."

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams said, "The NYSUNY 2020 initiative is an innovative partnership that unites the world-class SUNY system with New York State’s economic development goals. These investments are creating great jobs for New Yorkers and enhancing the State’s higher education curriculum through advanced training and research programs. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the SUNY 2020 initiative will continue to be a major driver of economic and academic growth across the State as round three of the program enables these five important projects to move forward.

Senator Kenneth LaValle, Chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, said, "New York’s public colleges and universities are truly some of the best in the world, and as today’s grant recipients demonstrate, they are also economic engines that play vital roles in our economy.”

Assemblywoman Deborah, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Higher Education, said, “I am very gratified by the continuing support for the State University System by Governor Cuomo. Both SUNY and CUNY are vital to the future of New York State and I’m pleased Governor Cuomo recognizes and supports our public higher education systems.”

Governor Cuomo first unveiled the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant program in May 2011, and he signed NYSUNY 2020 bill into law in August of that year. The program provides a rational tuition policy for the SUNY and CUNY systems, maintenance of State funding invested into each system, and capital funding for SUNY’s four university centers. Round two of the program was announced by the Governor in his 2012 State of the State address with a $60 million appropriation enacted as part of the 2012-13 State Budget. The $55 million released as part of this announcement is from the third round of NYSUNY 2020 announced in the 2013 State of the State and included in the 2013-14 Budget.

The five projects funded are as follows:

SUNY Water Research and Education Center at Onondaga Lake - $20 million

SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry and Onondaga Community College

The SUNY Water Research and Education Center will bring research, educational opportunity, tourism and sustainable development to the shores of a nationally recognized lake clean-up effort. Scientists from SUNY-ESF, the Upstate Freshwater Institute and the Onondaga Environmental Institute will monitor changes to the lake ecosystems. In partnership with the Great Lakes Research Consortium, research funding will flow to the areas of robotic water-quality monitoring, lake restoration and water-quality sensor design. Additional opportunities exist for tourism through the center, STEM education for K-12 students, distance learning and other workforce education. Companies will be attracted to the Center in connection to the START-UP NY program and on site research allowing for future expansion and job growth. The Center will strengthen Central New York’s role as a national center for water research technologies and related industries.

The Project will build a 34,000 square foot LEED gold building on the shore of Onondaga Lake at the heart of Syracuse Inner Harbor revitalization initiative. The short-term economic impact of the Center at Onondaga Lake is projected to be $37 million; and it will create 532 temporary jobs. The long-term economic impact is estimated to be $11 million annually, and the project is expected to create and sustain 186 permanent jobs

SUNY ESF President Quentin Wheeler said, “Onondaga Lake is a textbook example of what restoration ecology is all about, an environmental success story that will be studied for generations, and a metaphor for the revitalization of Central New York. ESF deeply appreciates the support of SUNY and Governor Cuomo in this investment that will extend our reach and impact into the community. ESF has long-term studies of the lake underway that will continue to monitor advances in its water quality and diversity of life. The SUNY WREC is an exciting opportunity to work closely with COR Development and Onondaga Community College, Le Moyne College, Upstate Freshwater Institute, Onondaga Environmental Institute, Onondaga Historical Association, area schools and the public to teach principles of ecology while monitoring and celebrating the rebirth of a truly beautiful lake and contributing to a vibrant future for Syracuse’s Inner Harbor."

Onondaga Community College President Casey Crabill said, “Onondaga Community College is delighted to learn that its partnership with SUNY ESF to develop the SUNY Water Research and Education Center at Onondaga Lake is one of five projects in the state to earn a NY SUNY 2020 Round 3 grant. We extend our great appreciation to Governor Cuomo, the State Legislature and Chancellor Zimpher for their support. The $20 million grant will strengthen OCC’s capacity to integrate education, research and community and economic development for the benefit of our students, employers and the community. This includes expanding opportunities for students enrolled in STEM degree programs such as hands-on fieldwork, internships and research opportunities and the development of new courses and programs focused on science, math and the environment. In addition, the college looks to the Center to serve local employers and workers by extending our reach in workforce development and non-credit certification and training programs.”

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said, "The SUNY Water Research and Education Center is an excellent example of what can be accomplished through collaboration and cooperation. Thank you to Governor Cuomo and SUNY for selecting this project for the SUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program and congratulations to SUNY ESF and OCC."

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said, “This project will be yet another part of the ongoing redevelopment of the Inner Harbor. I am pleased that our list of collaborators continues to grow. That is a sign of continued success for this important project.”

Engineering Innovation Hub - $10 million

SUNY New Paltz

The Engineering Innovation Hub will provide much needed instructional and research space on campus while also addressing the critical shortage of mechanical engineers. In addition, it will also include 10,000 square feet of office and lab space to support new companies looking to participate in START-UP NY. Interested firms active in advanced manufacturing, 3D printing, and other related industry sectors have expressed interest in collaborating and co-locating on available space upon campus. In response, the Engineering Hub will create exciting synergies by partnering with area community colleges linking 3D printing courses to Engineering programs to advanced manufacturing and technologically innovative companies.

This project will see the construction of a new 20,000 square foot Innovation Hub. In addition to providing a much needed home for New Paltz’s diversified engineering program, this multi-phased hub will generate $75 million in new economic impact, create more than 195 full time jobs, and graduate 300 much needed engineers over a ten year period in the Mid-Hudson region alone.

SUNY New Paltz President Donald P. Christian said, “We’re grateful to Governor Cuomo for his support of our efforts at SUNY New Paltz to educate more engineering students, support workforce development and enhance economic development in the Hudson Valley. We’re excited about this opportunity to strengthen our role in SUNY’s mission to be an economic driver in New York.”

Ulster County Executive Mike Hein said, “SUNY New Paltz has once again set an example for the entire state on how a college can innovate into the 21st Century, and the nearly 200 jobs and $75 million investment that will result from the State’s $10 million investment will do absolute wonders for Ulster County. When government works as it should, the people get results – and that is what we are seeing today, thanks to Governor Cuomo, the State Legislature and Chancellor Nancy Zimpher.”

SUNY Bridge to Entrepreneurial Excellence (SUNY BEE) - $6 million

Broome Community College

The SUNY Bridge to Entrepreneurial Excellence is a student-centered approach to creating the next generation of entrepreneurs through experiential education. Housed within the Southern Tier High Technology Incubator and partnering with SUNY Binghamton, SUNY BEE will nurture a vibrant start-up community for student led ventures. The project intends to expand on two already established entrepreneurship programs to bridge the gap between academics and real world entrepreneurial experiences for student led ventures. NY SUNY 2020 funding will ensure that the SUNY BEE space is constructed and equipped to best inspire innovative brain storming and launch outcome-oriented inventions.

The project is endorsed by the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council and is connected to START-UP NY and the Governor’s Innovations Hotspot initiatives. New student companies that are formed in the SUNY BEE space using the incubator are eligible to participate in START-UP NY and be eligible for tax exemption from all State taxes.

SUNY BEE is housed within the Southern Tier Incubator which is scheduled to open in Fall 2016. Combined with private sector interest, this SUNY 2020 grant reaches an economic impact of $33 million, with an overall estimated impact of $132 million for the incubataor project as a whole, creating an additional 906 jobs over a nine year period. On top of these efforts, SUNY BEE will enable the addition of 18 more companies over nine years, each creating a total of 5 jobs for a total of 114 additional jobs and an estimated $33 million in economic impact.

Dr. Kevin Drumm, President of Broome Community College, said, “This is truly fantastic news for the Greater Binghamton region. Our Student Incubator will help keep some of our young, creative future entrepreneurs in the area and there's no telling what this will mean for the future of our community. We thank Governor Cuomo, SUNY and everyone involved in awarding us and also our great partner, Binghamton University, for this shot-in-the arm to our local economy and the future of our community.”

The Manufacturing and Technology Resource Center for the North Country - $12.7 million

Clinton County Community College

This project (also known as MaTRec) will construct the North Country’s first advanced manufacturing institute. Building off the North Country Regional Economic Development Council’s designation of transportation, aerospace and manufacturing as priority areas for economic growth, MaTReC will establish a pipeline of educational programs and training to strengthen industry in the area. Through expanding existing workforce programs at Clinton County Community College, collaborating with both Clarkson and SUNY Plattsburgh on relevant advanced degrees, and three local high schools implementing a Pathways to Technology Early College High School, MaTReC will create a one stop location for local industry clusters to access programs and individual talent.

The project will construct a new two story, state-of-the-art training facility on Clinton Community College’s main campus resulting in the creation of over 100 construction related jobs. As an advanced manufacturing institute, MaTReC will support the regions strong economic base for manufacturing, which in 2012 included 79 manufacturing companies that were operational in Clinton County alone with an average employment of 3,280 and total wages of $151,404,547.

Bretschger Building Renovation/AAS Nanotechnology Degree Program - $5.75 million

Erie County Community College

This project will renovate and equip the Bretschger Building for the establishment of a new Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Degree in Nanotechnology. In response to the various large scale nanotechnology related projects announced across upstate New York, Erie Community College is partnering with Genesee Community College to co-launch new degree programs in the renovated space. With only two other semiconductor manufacturing related AAS programs in New York State, at Hudson Valley Community College and Schenectady County Community College, this degree program will develop a highly skilled home grown workforce capable in filling the large number of nano related jobs being created across the state. Existing aforementioned AAS degree programs offered in the Capital Region primarily supply their local employers, who themselves still are forced to hire 50 percent of employees out of state. This project will train homegrown employees to work in the nanotechnology sector here in New York State.

The Nanotechnology Degree program will expend $3.1 million in renovations with the remaining allocation dedicated to equipment purchases for both Erie Community College and Genesee Community College to train on. The program aims to enroll 50 new students with each entering class and employ 20 graduates in the region on an annual basis. The program will ensure that there is a trained workforce to take advantage of new opportunities at the RiverBen project and high-tech research and development positions at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Additional ventures and growth in the Nanotechnology sector will lead to opportunities for community college students and the creation of a home grown workforce.

Erie County Community College President Jack Quinn said, “On behalf of the faculty, staff and students of ECC, I’d like to thank Governor Cuomo, Chancellor Zimpher and leaders of the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program. These awarded monies not only provide a transformational opportunity for both our college and nanotechnology training across the region, but will also provide a tremendous collaborative opportunity with nearby Genesee Community College. Together, we’ll be able to prep students for promising careers in an industry growing right here in Western New York. We couldn’t be happier, and we can’t wait to get started.”

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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