UAlbany President George Philip, above, discusses UAlbany’s 2020 plan which would involve constructing a $165 million Emerging Technologies and Entrepreneurship Complex. Gov. Andrew Cuomo hopes to increase the state economy and is willing to do “whatever it takes.” Photo by courtesy of the Governor’s Office.
September 24, 2012University at Albany officials along with Gov. Andrew Cuomo said keeping technology jobs in New York, and attracting entrepreneurs, businesses and innovation is one of the chief goals of the NYSUNY 2020 plan - and its most recently approved component.
The governor, along with SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, UAlbany President George Philip and other legislative and business leaders last Thursday announced one of the centerpieces of UAlbany's 2020 plan, a $165 million Emerging Technologies and Entrepreneurship Complex to be constructed on the east side of the uptown campus.
The NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program, Cuomo said, is one piece of the puzzle to jumpstarting the state's economy and he said he is willing to do "whatever it takes," to bring business and technology to New York.
The program called for each of SUNY's four flagship research centers – Albany, Buffalo, Binghamton and Stony Brook – to develop an economic development plan that incorporates academic and business ideas that focus on regional strengths.
With respect to tax incentives and other programs to help the state economy thrive, Cuomo said rather than give a business a hard-limit on what the state is willing to do, it would be more prudent for businesses to come to the state with a plan that fits their needs and go from there.
"You tell me what it takes to bring the business here and that's the package we will work on," he said.
Cuomo and other leaders at the unveiling stressed the importance of a "technology transfer" into New York that would allow it to catch up to some of the other states with respect to attracting job and businesses offering jobs and revenue.
The UAlbany portion of the SUNY 2020 plan, featuring the E-TEC building and the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, is expected to generate more than $1.8 billion in economic impact in Capital Region, "which is 50 times the investment of the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant," according to SUNY officials.
"E-TEC will bolster UAlbany's ability to translate academic research into commercialization," said Philip. "This plan provides a tremendous opportunity for the Empire State to become a national leader in converting its research capacity into a sustainable economic impact."
The E-TEC building, a state-of-the-art research and development facility, will also offer the commercialization resources needed to make ideas into money-making entities.
"E-TECH will provide a 'front door' for industry to global-leading [research and development] - a virtual cross-sector 'sandbox' fostering collaboration among innovators, investors, and customers," said Philip.
UAlbany's School of Business is slated to provide "innovative entrepreneurial training" to students in support of E-TEC as well.
Richard Pyle, a SUNY graduate who works as the director of weather critical energy for the Vaisala Group, lauded the plan and said his company would have gotten off the ground much sooner if the resources E-TEC is offering were available after he graduated. Vaisala is one of several companies slated to partner with the E-TEC project.
The UAlbany plan commits to an addition of more than 187 faculty researchers and $117 million in cumulative research expenditures. It also is expected to generate 735 permanent positions, and 1,587 construction jobs, according to information provided by SUNY officials.
"By investing in new faculty, UAlbany expects to grow enrollment by 1,350 new students over the next five years. The university's enrollment growth plan also ensures affordability through $5.2 million in enacted TAP eligibility aid, as well as $2.5 million in increased student aid," according to a statement released shortly after the announcement.
Tamra Minor, UAlbany's chief diversity officer said the university will also focus on making sure a wide-breath of students from a variety of economic and cultural backgrounds will be able to benefit from the plan.
Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, who was invited to the announcement, said he was impressed by the presentation from the SUNY officials but was reluctant to call the plan a comprehensive solution to the state's economic challenges.
"It's not the silver bullet," that is going to keep students in New York, he said.
Tedisco said the taxes in the state need to be structured in a way that promotes business and spending and mandates need to be controlled as well.
He also said while technology certainly has the potential to play a huge role in growing New York, students interested in art, music and other areas also need opportunities to explore their careers and contribute to the state's economic viability.