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Sen. Schumer pushes to increase federal funding for economic development grants

February 18, 2016
By A.J. Rao ( , Westfield Republican

Efforts to attract new businesses and jobs to New York state could be severely hampered by an underfunded Economic Development Administration, according to U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.

Recently, Schumer, D-N.Y., spoke with reporters on a conference call, explaining how the EDA - a federal agency that promotes economic growth via grants to state and local entities and projects - has not had a significant increase in federal funding for nearly a decade.

As a result, the EDA has been forced to deny grant funding to more than 100 job-creation projects statewide. Nationally, nearly 800 applications are denied every year.

"These (EDA) grant programs provide a real shot in the arm for local communities across Upstate New York, but each year, more and more projects are left unfunded, and job creation opportunities are missed because the agency has been shortchanged for more than a decade," Schumer said. "At a time when middle-class incomes are stuck in a morass and everyday families are being squeezed, we should be investing more resources into creating good-paying jobs, not less."

Schumer said EDA grants have been helpful in paving the way for new businesses and incubators, providing them necessary funding to make an initial infrastructure investment. Past EDA awards have also helped leverage private funds or matching state funds for projects like sewer upgrades and disaster recovery.

"A worst-case scenario is when a community has done the hard work of attracting a new company to their backyard, but the business decides to move elsewhere because the EDA application for a modest infrastructure improvement was stalled," Schumer said.

To help support local efforts to acquire funding, Schumer said he will urge federal appropriators to make a significant increase in EDA funding this year; specifically, an increase from the current $199 million level to the 2007 level of $250 million.

Schumer said there is a "good chance" this increase will be approved since the end of sequestration has allowed for "more room" in the federal budget.

"I am urging federal appropriators to make a significant increase in EDA funding this year so New York can use those funds to create new jobs, attract new businesses to the region and make key infrastructure upgrades," Schumer said. "While I understand that resources are limited, investing in EDA beyond the roughly $200 million it has received in recent years is a worthwhile initiative. Growing the annual appropriation to EDA will provide valuable resources that can be used to create jobs throughout the country."

In Western New York, there were 21 applications that received funding between 2007 and 2014, for a total of $6,355,465; six applications, for a total of $8,706,819, were left unfunded between 2011 and 2014.



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