Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed the Binghamton University NYSUNY 2020 challenge grant, approving a comprehensive plan which includes the development of a $70 million Smart Energy Center that will help revitalize the Southern Tier economy and create more than 840 university and private sector jobs.
Under the plan, Binghamton University will hire new researchers and faculty, expand its academic offerings and facilities, foster public/private research partnerships, and expand technology development in high-tech fields.
"The Binghamton University plan will maximize the economic impact that one of New York's most prominent university centers has on the Empire State," Governor Cuomo said. "I look forward to seeing the plan in action, as Binghamton University creates jobs on campus and throughout the Southern Tier, enhances New York's energy-smart infrastructure and alternative energy research portfolio, and gives more students access to a top quality public higher education that is second to none in the nation and around the world."
The Binghamton University Smart Energy Research and Development Facility will create more than 840 new full-time jobs in the Southern Tier by 2017, including:
- 385 jobs at Binghamton University
- 455 jobs across Broome and Tioga Counties
- 7 million annually in additional funding for energy research
- Attracting additional companies to the area and partnering with existing companies to create collaborative research, spin off companies, energy products, and sustainable jobs.
The Smart Energy Research and Development Facility will reflect New York State and national strategic interests, expanding research in solar and thermoelectric energy harvesting, energy storage technologies, energy-efficient electronic systems, and sensors for energy resource management. Research at the new center will also promote collaboration with and among major firms doing business in the region.
The initiatives researched and advanced by the Smart Energy Research and Development Facility are consistent with the efforts of NY Battery & Energy Storage Technology (NY BEST) and Governor Cuomos NY Sun Initiative to accelerate solar deployment across the State.
SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said, "With an estimated economic impact of $1 billion by 2017, the Binghamton University plan not only meets but far exceeds the NYSUNY 2020 challenge and promises to greatly enhance the University's services to students, faculty, and staff as well as its partnerships in the Southern Tier and throughout New York. NYSUNY 2020 represents a fantastic opportunity for SUNY and for New York State, and we are thrilled by the remarkable progress this partnership with Governor Cuomo and the Legislature has enabled our campuses to make as this initiative has moved forward."
Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger said, "The entire Binghamton University community thanks Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Chancellor Nancy Zimpher for their help making Binghamton Universitys NYSUNY 2020 proposal a reality. Approval of the challenge grant puts Binghamton University and the Southern Tier region on an exciting path of growth. This NYSUNY 2020 plan will help us realize a number of goals that are important to New York state to create jobs, enhance education and encourage research that drives new technologies. Most importantly, it will build on the synergy of our two main objectives, to enhance the academic quality of the University and have a significant economic impact on the Southern Tier. Binghamton University is proud that the governor and the chancellor value the work it is doing and have provided the opportunity to implement this progressive plan."
Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos said, "I commend the Governor, as well as Senator Libous, who has always been a tireless advocate for the Southern Tier, for the leadership they've provided on this important project and am thrilled that SUNY Binghamtons challenge grant application has been approved. By doing so, we can continue to leverage the outstanding work being done at the University to create new jobs in Binghamton and throughout the entire Southern Tier."
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, "This investment in the Binghamton University Smart Energy Research and Development Center is an investment in the city of Binghamton and the economic resurgence of the Southern Tier. I applaud the Governor for his efforts to bolster our public colleges, universities and community colleges. Binghamton University has fostered an innovative program, making it one of the finest research institutes in the state, and in fact, the nation. Successful programs like this enable us to protect and strengthen the integrity of our higher education system, ensuring that our SUNY and CUNY schools remain affordable and accessible to all New Yorkers."
Senate Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous said, "With Governor Cuomo's announcement, BU's comprehensive plan to add thousands of new students and bring hundreds of local jobs to our community will become a reality. It will make Binghamton and the surrounding area the hub for energy technology and innovation. This is a big victory for the entire Southern Tier."
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo said, "As Chair of the Legislative Commission on Science and Technology, I am proud that our ongoing support of Binghamton University has made it a catalyst for cutting edge research. With the addition of this new Smart Energy Research and Development Facility, we can build on our existing resources and expertise. Our commitment to growing the Innovative Technologies Complex strengthens our local and state economies and invests in our economic recovery."
The Challenge Grant Program, along with rational tuition and maintenance of effort policies, are part of the NYSUNY2020 legislation signed by the Governor in August, 2011. The law helps New York's public universities become a leading catalyst for regionally-focused economic development while maintaining affordability and improving academic quality for all students.
The NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program a joint program between the Governor and SUNY incentivizes bottom-up, individualized, long-term economic development plans on SUNY campuses and the surrounding communities.
The law enacted a rational tuition plan that allows each SUNY and CUNY campus to raise tuition by $300 per year for five years, replacing an era of sudden tuition increases with a system that is predictable and empowers students and parents to plan for college expenses. For the past 20 years, the average annual SUNY tuition increase has been 6.7 percent, exceeding the five-year, $300 increases included in this legislation. During that time, there were periods without tuition increases followed by sudden and dramatic tuition spikes of up to 40 percent. Such spikes and uncertainty in tuition is detrimental to students, families, and the university system. The NYSUNY 2020 legislation prevents these types of unpredictable tuition hikes from reoccurring.The law maintains affordability by establishing tuition credits, which will require SUNY and CUNY to apply a credit against the tuition charged to a student. The amount of the applicable tuition credit will be based on the level of a student's Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) award.University Centers at Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Stony Brook, after the approval of their Challenge Grant Applications, will additionally be able to implement a rational "plus" tuition plan by including an additional three percent increase (based upon a $75 fee and an up to 10 percent tuition increase for out-of-state students) annually for five years. As a condition of approval, the University Centers are required to include other financial aid plans to qualify for the rational "plus" program. Binghamton joins Buffalo and Stony Brook whose plans have already been approved by the Governor.
The act authorizes $80 million in capital funding for the four University Centers that will be granted subject to the approval of the NYSUNY 2020 applications. Combined with the additional $60 million in existing SUNY funds, the total Challenge Grant Program investment totals $140 million. The law additionally requires strong conflict of interest policies and MWBE goals for implementation of the program.