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State may fund new facility

By : Rachel Coker

The state budget will likely include $50 million to $60 million for a new engineering and science building at the Innovative Technologies Complex, lawmakers said last week.

The new facility will add about 30,000 square feet to the ITC, expanding engineering, physics, chemistry and materials science academic and research space.

It will be the second phase of development for the 21-acre site, which already has a building dedicated to life sciences.

State Sen. Thomas W. Libous, RBinghamton, and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell, said they worked as a team to push for this funding.

“This is a large appropriation,” Libous said. “This is something that comes our way once every 10 or 20 years.”

Lupardo noted that it’s easier to push for such money now that the area is represented in Albany by two majority-party members.

“As a member of the Assembly’s Higher Education Committee, I’m proud to have been able to see that this project was included in our budget proposal,” she said.

The Assembly budget proposal includes $50 million for the facility, while the Senate’s includes $60 million. Libous and Lupardo said they will continue to advocate for the larger amount.

“We are grateful to Senator Libous for his leadership and to both the senator and Assemblywoman Lupardo for their steadfast support,” President Lois B. DeFleur said. “This is a major project for the University and will help expand educational opportunities as well as economic development in Greater Binghamton and New York State.”

The Watson School of Engineering occupies space built in 1973 as a registrar and student services building. It has doubled its enrollment since 1996 and the facility can no longer accommodate the needs of its faculty members and students.

The new facility will allow the University to hire new faculty and expand enrollment of both undergraduates and graduates. Space will be set aside for new business start-ups.

The facility will also support the University’s ongoing industry partnerships and promote new ones.

Libous, who has toured the present facilities in the Watson School, said he sees the need for the new building and is confident the money will be in the final state budget.

“What excites me about this project is we will be able to offer career opportunities for people in this community,” he said. “It’s always good when you can offer a job, but it’s even better when you can offer a career.”

Lupardo agrees the University should play a significant role in revitalizing the area. “This is a fantastic boon to the community,” she said.

Libous said he believes the University and high-tech industry are essential ingredients in the region’s economic development. “This is the only way that we will get back on track,” he said, “and the University will help us lead the way.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08