September 21, 2016
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces $63.4 Million Transformation of Greater Rochester International Airport

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces $63.4 Million...

Governor Awards $39.8 Million in Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization Competition Funding to Activate Airport's Redesign

Design Includes World-Class Passenger Amenities, Enhanced Security Measures, Premier Retail and Dining Options, a Solar Canopy Over the Skyway, State-of-the-Art Accessibility Technology and a Wide-Scale Redesign of the Terminal Building

Program Complements "Finger Lakes Forward" – Region’s Successful Upstate Revitalization Initiative Blueprint to Grow the Economy and Create New Opportunities

See Renderings of the New Airport Here


Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo awarded $39.8 million in funding to Greater Rochester International Airport to activate the airport’s $63.4 million transformation. The airport will be a state-of-the-art transportation hub with sustainable design, an improved passenger experience and increased economic opportunity. The project will overhaul the aging infrastructure of the airport with a wide-scale redesign of the terminal building, incorporating sustainable elements such as solar panels and rainwater collection, new signage, enhanced security measures, new technology to improve accessibility, and premier shopping and dining options for a world-class passenger experience. More information is available here. The specifics of the redesign plan are available in a PowerPoint presentation, available here.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the Governor’s remarks is available here.

PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor’s Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks delivered at today’s event is available below:

Thank you. Thank you very much. It is my pleasure to be back on this beautiful day, and it is an exciting day and a great day for Monroe County and the entire Finger Lakes region. First to the County Executive, and her team, and the management of this airport, that has done a really extraordinary job in coming up with a vision for the airport of tomorrow. Let's give her a round of applause and the whole airport management team a round of applause.

It's a pleasure to be with Commissioner Matt Driscoll, who is doing a great job at the Department of Transportation. This was his priority and his idea about revitalizing the upstate airports/ He was exactly right. Let's give the commissioner a round of applause.

And my partners in the legislature who passed this proposal in the budget last year. We then ran a competition and we're here today to talk about the results of that competition, but the legislature has made a priority about investing in upstate New York, and I want to thank the majority leader and Senator Joe Robach and Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle for being here today and for passing this, as well as my other colleagues from the legislature. Let's give them a round of applause.

You know, for many years, upstate New York was in decline, as we all know. And there was – I call it a negative synergy. You talk about positive synergy, there is also a negative synergy. And we were losing businesses, and when you lose business, you lose opportunity, then you lose people - you lose young people, and it's a downward spiral. And it was a downward spiral for decades. And everything was about loss and mitigating loss, but the arrows were all pointed down. Today, the arrows are pointed up. And you see more and more positive signs of growth and development. Why? Because first of all, upstate New York has a full-fledged partner in the state government, which they didn't have for many, many decades. And upstate New York – and I say it, and I don't feel good about saying it, but they got the short end of the stick. And the state government in Albany was not focused enough on upstate New York. Matt Driscoll will tell you that as a former mayor of Syracuse, Bob Duffy will tell you that as the former mayor of Rochester, Mayor Warren will tell you that today - that in the past, state government didn't focus on upstate New York.

We shifted that 180 degrees. And we have now invested billions of dollars in upstate New York. And you see the growth, and you see the momentum. Just last week, we did the Genesee Brewery, you see what's going on in the Port of Rochester with the new marina, the photonics that was announced by the vice president, 1366 - you see new businesses actually coming in and new industries being formed. We've invested in tourism, and tourism is driving an economy unto itself. Finger Lakes region, the growth in tourism is about 14 percent - we're up to three billion dollars per year in economic activity from tourism from I Love New York, etcetera. And that's only getting better because that whole wine industry and the brewery industry is just taking off. And the more people that come to upstate New York, the more people who return. Because it is beautiful. And once they come, and once they see it, once they experience it, they come back. It's just we hadn't told the story, we hadn't gotten the word out for too long. So you see the growth, you feel the growth, you see it in the numbers.

When we started, unemployment was at about eight percent. Now it's down to 4.6 percent. So all the arrows are pointed in the right direction. We just have to keep it going now, we have to build on that momentum and we have to build on that energy. And what is probably, in today's economy, the single most important asset is the airport. Why? Because that’s your front door.

You want to talk about tourism? Some people drive, but more and more people are flying. You want to talk about a global economy? Photonics industry, getting new businesses, they're coming by plane. It's about the airport and the amenities and airports are different than they were 20 years ago. It's not about just showing up and getting on a taxiway to take a plane. It's now a destination in and of itself. And people expect the level of amenities that they have in other airports, and that's what you have to do to be competitive, that was Commissioner Driscoll's point, and he was right.

So we said we were going to run a competition for the best airport transformation plans. Why a competition? Because we believe in competition in government. Sounds almost like an oxymoron, 'competition in government'. No, we are very responsible with taxpayer dollars. We want to invest in economic development projects, but we want to invest in the best economic development projects. So how do you get the best economic development projects? We hold competitions. It's what we did with the Regional Economic Development Councils and we say, "Whoever comes up with the best plan, the best bang for the buck, we will then invest as a partner." Basically a private sector mentality in investing with government funds. So, we had a competition.

We had 16 applications from airports in upstate New York that came up with transformation plans and they were very, very creative. And the competition was very stiff. From the first, from those 16 in this first round, there are two winners. And once there is a winner, the question is, "How much of the amount requested do you get?" Right? So there's sort of two hurdles: one, you win and two, the question is, how much of the amount requested do you get? Obviously the answer to the first question is, you are a winner, otherwise I wouldn't be standing here with airplanes behind me.

You have proposed a $63 million transformation plan that is going to take the airport from an airport of yesterday, to an airport of tomorrow. That is going to make your front door a state-of-the-art front door where you have as great a welcome area to attract new business and new people as any city in this country. You requested $63 million from the transformation plan, the full plan is $63 million dollars. You requested approximately $40 million from the state of New York through this competition, $23 million to be put in by the airport and county sources. And I am here to say congratulations, you have won the full approximately $40 million. Congratulations, and God bless.

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