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State-Funded Economic Development Program Runs Ahead Of Schedule

ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) - New York state and local officials say that the $500 million awarded to the Finger Lakes region by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2015 as part of the Upstate Revitalization Initiative is nearly fully committed. Officials say that money is spread across 100 job-producing projects.

That word came Tuesday at a meeting of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. The Executive Director of that council, Vinnie Esposito, says the Finger Lakes Forward plan is two years ahead of schedule.

Optics, photonics and imaging has been one of the areas that money from the state grants has been used in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region.

Esposito noted that jobs created in some of those industries may take a while to develop.

“Infotonics, as has been widely reported, doesn’t create a lot of direct jobs but it’s going to facilitate commercialization for companies that will create those jobs. So it’s not always just about the direct job creation number that you’ll see reported today. It's about, what does this leverage and allow to transpire, going forward in the future,” Esposito said.

Overall, the Finger Lakes Council says that the projects created with the state funds will create about 4,000 new jobs and help retain over 6,200 others.

Areas that the regional council has been focusing on in recent years include photonics, agriculture and food production and next-generation manufacturing. The council will now also put a focus on sectors that are rapidly developing in recent years such as the life sciences and software related industries.