Governor Cuomo Announces Almost 200 Applicants For Round One Of Grow-NY Food and Agriculture Business Competition

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Submissions Were Received from 23 States and 16 Countries;
One-third of Applicants Are Female

The Food and Agriculture Industry Competition Is Funded through Upstate Revitalization Initiatives – Finger Lakes Forward, CNY Rising, and Southern Tier Soaring – Regional Comprehensive Strategies Aimed at Revitalizing Communities and Growing the Economy

ITHACA, N.Y. — JULY 29, 2019 — Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 199 applications have been submitted for round one of the Grow-NY food innovation and agriculture technology business challenge. The initiative is focused on enhancing the emerging food, beverage and agriculture innovation cluster in the Finger Lakes, Central New York and Southern Tier regions. The Grow-NY region includes a broad, 22-county swath of Upstate New York’s most vibrant farmlands as well as several major urban centers, including Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca and Binghamton.

“The Grow-NY competition has attracted a group of diverse, innovative entrepreneurs who are ready to focus on finding new ways to further transform New York’s world-renowned food and agricultural industry,” Governor Cuomo said. “Through efforts like this we are continuing to bolster these regional economies and foster statewide growth in this critical industry.”

“The Grow-NY competition builds on our efforts to grow the agriculture industry across the state,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Chair of the statewide Regional Economic Development Councils. “New York has some of the best food and beverage products in the world, and this innovative challenge will further strengthen the industry in the Central, Finger Lakes, and Southern Tier regions. We want to make sure that entrepreneurs, particularly women-owned businesses, have the access and opportunity to enhance and transform the industry, creating jobs and ensuring a 21st Century economy.”

The applicants represent North America, Europe, Central America, Africa and the Middle East – with one applicant from New Zealand. Most of the international applicants are from Canada and Israel. In the U.S., 23 states were represented, with 13 submissions from Massachusetts, eight from California, and five from New Jersey. More than half of all submitted applications came from within New York State. Thirty-two percent of all applicants are women, and 28 percent of the businesses were started by women.

A panel of Grow-NY judges will now narrow down the applicants to a group of up to 20 finalists. The finalist startups will be invited to the region and assigned mentors as they develop their business plans and prepare their business pitches.  Finalists will pitch their business ideas and plans to a panel of judges and a live audience from November 12 to 13, 2019 at the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit held at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

“It was no surprise to see such strong interest for this program. The Upstate New York region is gaining strong traction globally as a great place for startups,” said Tom Schryver, Executive Director of Cornell University’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement, which is administrating the initiative. “Internally, we had established a target of 150 applicants to consider this stage a success, so to exceed that figure by nearly one third – and to generate the broad geographic, gender and ethnic diversity we’re seeing on top of that – it makes us all excited as to the prospects for this initiative and the impact it could have on our region.”

Grow-NY is an unprecedented business competition focused on enhancing the emerging food and agriculture innovation cluster currently present in the Finger Lakes, Central New York, and Southern Tier regions. The competition will run for an additional two rounds and will award a total of $3 million in prize money in each round to seven winners, all payable in stages, based on business milestones. This includes a $1 million top prize, two $500,000 prizes and four $250,000 prizes.

Originally announced in the Governor’s State of the State address this year, the Grow-NY initiative builds on the successful legacy of other state-supported competitions such as 43North, Genius NY, Luminate NY, and 76West. Funding for the Grow-NY competition will be provided through the Upstate Revitalization Initiatives connected with the three regions – Finger Lakes Forward, CNY Rising and Southern Tier Soaring. Winners will be required to operate in the Grow-NY region, produce jobs, connect with local industry partners, and contribute to a thriving Upstate economy.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “The Grow-NY business competition is attracting startups and entrepreneurial talent from around the world dedicated to delivering agriculture innovation that will create jobs and advance the Finger Lakes, Central New York and Southern Tier economies.”

Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Co-Chairs Dr. Anne Kress, President of Monroe Community College, and Bob Duffy, President and CEO, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce said, “Governor Cuomo’s Grow-NY competition will connect local industry partners and mentors with these innovative entrepreneurs who are working on cutting-edge ideas. Agriculture and food industries are key to moving the Finger Lakes Forward, advancing and sustaining a thriving regional economy for years to come.”

Central New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Randy Wolken, President & CEO of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York and Deborah Stanley, President of the State University of New York at Oswego said, “New York State is a global leader in the agriculture and food industries. The Governor’s Grow-NY competition represents yet another exciting investment in our community which will serve to bolster regional job growth and further support our agricultural base in Central New York ensuring the region continues to rise for years to come.”

Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Harvey Stenger, President of Binghamton University, and Judy McKinney Cherry, Executive Director, Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development, said, “The REDC recognizes that the agriculture industry is an incredibly important part of our regions’ continued economic success. The Grow-NY competition will empower these innovative businesses, serving to bolster our efforts to boost the regional economy helping the Southern Tier to soar for generations to come.”

To learn more about Grow-NY, visit grow-ny.com. To learn more about the Cornell Center for Regional Economic Advancement, visit https://crea.cornell.edu.

Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward 

Today’s announcement complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $6.1 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan – investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Rochester, Batavia and Canandaigua as a destination to grow and invest in.

Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.

Accelerating CNY Rising

Today’s announcement complements “Central NY Rising,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $5.6 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan – capitalizing on global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Syracuse, Oswego and Auburn as a destination to grow and invest in.

Now, the region is accelerating Central NY Rising with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 5,900 new jobs. More information is available here.

Accelerating Southern Tier Soaring 

Today’s announcement complements “Southern Tier Soaring,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $6.2 billion in the region since 2012 to lay for groundwork for the plan – attracting a talented workforce, growing business and driving innovation. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Binghamton, Johnson City and Corning as a destination in which to grow and invest.

Now, the region is accelerating Southern Tier Soaring with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 10,200 new jobs. More information is available here.

About Empire State Development

Empire State Development (ESD) promotes a vigorous and growing state economy, encourages business investment and job creation, and supports diverse, prosperous local economies across New York State through the efficient use of loans, grants, tax credits, real estate development, marketing and other forms of assistance. To learn more about ESD visit https://esd.ny.gov.

About the Cornell Center for Regional Economic Advancement

The Cornell Center for Regional Economic Advancement (CREA) supports economic impact in Upstate New York through entrepreneurship and innovation. We help people advance ideas that will create jobs in all fields in our region, to enrich the area’s economic diversity. To learn more, visit https://crea.cornell.edu.