Initially earmarked to help build the state’s nanotech industry, the money will now go toward companies focused on unmanned systems and job creation.
(TNS) — Syracuse, N.Y. — A $5 million state grant that was targeted for a nanotech center in Salina that never got off the ground is instead being used to promote the creation of drone industry jobs in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley.
Five companies in the unmanned aerial systems, or drone, industry have already been awarded up to $3.4 million from the fund in exchange for commitments to create 181 jobs.
Grants from the UAS Central Job Fund can be used to reimburse an employer up to $55,000 per job in order to increase the number of employees in the drone industry, as well as the autonomous vehicle and aerospace sectors, in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley.
The money can be used for salaries, equipment, training, rent or purchase of space or other business expenses required to support the additional staff. Costs incurred for jobs filled prior to the grant approval are not eligible for reimbursement.
In 2010, state officials announced plans to spend up to $28 million to redevelop the 74,000-square-foot building former General Electric Co. Electronics Laboratory building in Salina into a nanotechnology research and development center.
The state spent $1.7 million of the $28 million in 2012 and 2013 to gut the building and remove asbestos and lead paint. However, no further development occurred because no nanotech industry tenant — or any other tech industry tenant, for that matter -- took an interest in the building.
Assemblyman Al Stirpe, D-Cicero, who helped to arrange the state funding for the failed nanotech center in Salina, said he and officials at CenterState CEO, which managed that project for the state, came up with the idea to use some of the unspent money to create the UAS job fund.
"The main objective is to get a headquarters location in Central New York," he said. "That's where I think you get the big advantages."
The state and CenterState CEO, an economic planning and development organization based in Syracuse, have been promoting Central New York and the Mohawk Valley as a place for drone industry research and development and manufacturing.
The administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo has committed $30 million to developing the nation's first-of-its-kind 50-mile drone air corridor between Syracuse and Griffiss International Airport in Rome. The Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance, or Nuair, launched the first part of the corridor in 2017.
The five companies that have been awarded grants from the job fund are:
In addition, drone manufacturer Microdrones committed to creating four jobs but has already created seven in the region. It is not receiving money from the UAS Central Job Fund but is receiving benefits under the START-UP NY program.
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