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April 2, 2004

Business, labor join call for higher-education matching grants

Governor George E. Pataki’s proposal to allow public and private colleges and universities to compete for up to $350 million in state funds as part of a matching grant program would create 16,000 jobs, and spur economic activity across the state by leveraging over $1 billion in investments from private and other sources, according the New York Commission of Independent Colleges and Universities (cICU).

The Business Council strongly supports the proposal, called the Higher Education Capital Initiative Matching Grants Program. "The program’s proposed matching requirement would leverage ongoing efforts at campuses statewide to turn new technologies into new wealth and new jobs,” said Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh.

The new plan will help the state’s economy and create thousands of new jobs, according to cICU president, Abraham M. Lackman. “The unions and associations that have endorsed the plan recognize that this is the right investment at the right time.”

The initiative would provide competitive matching grants to colleges and universities. The grants would be targeted towards capital investments in high-technology fields, according to Russell W. Bessette, executive director of the state office of Science Technology & Academic Research (NYSTAR).

The program, which would be open to all New York colleges and universities, has gained support among several unions and trade associations, including the New York Building Congress, the state Building and Construction Trades Council, Unions and Businesses United in Construction, and the Empire State Regional Council of Carpenters.

“New York’s educational facilities are major contributors to the state’s long term economy and fundamental to its quality of life,” said Richard T. Anderson, New York Building Congress president. “To do this, New York must have a firm commitment to modernize and upgrade its higher education facilities.”

Jeff Zogg, executive director of the General Building Contractors of New York, said the new program would spur greater construction activities and an increase in good paying construction jobs. “The economic benefits will ripple several times throughout the state's economy,” Zogg said. “That can only be positive for everyone."