SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– Four years ago Monday, the Central New York Region hit the jackpot. It was award $500 million dollars of taxpayer money by New York State to be used to revitalize and energize the economy.

In 2015, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo created the Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI) competition to strategically focus on the economic development of Upstate NY, as part of long-term, regionally-based plans for economic growth through the state’s 10 Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs). The REDCs have changed the way New York State invests state resources, through a community-based, bottom-up approach designed to meet each region’s needs, involving private-public partnerships of local experts and stakeholders. Through a competitive process for state resources, the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA), the REDCs create strategies for growth through projects and initiatives that attract private investment and create jobs.

The Upstate Revitalization Initiative dolled out three “Top Performer” prizes to the Central New York Region, Finger Lakes Region and Southern Tier region. The Central New York Region Economic Council came up with a plan to persuade the state that its region deserved to be a top performer.

The $500 million is given out over the course of five years. Year four of five is wrapping up this year. 2020 is the last year of the funding.

The projects for the URI are meant to be transformative projects designed to create and retain jobs. Regional Revitalization Plans were evaluated in part on a plan’s ability to leverage at least five dollars of private sector spending for every one dollar of public sector funds. According to New York State, this requirement does not apply to each and every URI funded project, but rather will be considered across the entire plan and over the entire five years.

In the latest CNYREDC report, it outline some of the major projects URI money has helped to create. The excerpts below are directly from the latest CNYREDC report:

New York State Fair: The New York State Fair has seen recent investments of over $120 million, the first such investment in state facilities in more than 80 years. Three years of improvements include a new, attractive Main Gate, a large midway with heavy-duty pavement, a 313-unit RV park that receives use year round, open spaces for programming, new or improved exhibit areas for the New York State Police and the Indian Village, and, in 2018, the new Exposition Center, the largest clear-span space north of New York City.

TCGplayer, Inc.: TCGplayer, an online marketplace and software business, is wrapping up construction of its new headquarters in downtown Syracuse. The renovation work included upgrades to 44,000 square feet of space inside of The Galleries of Syracuse building on South Warren Street, allowing the company to grow its eCommerce fulfillment service for collectible memorabilia. TCGplayer’s new headquarters will also feature a unique, interactive design that engages the community through a street-level view of its space and pop culture-themed work areas. The company has committed to providing more than 300 new and retained jobs in the region over the next five years. Construction is expected to be completed at the end of this year.

NOTE: TCGplayer did lay off nearly 15 percent of the company’s workforce in October.

Green Empire Farms: Green Empire Farms is constructing up to four phases of new greenhouses in Madison County, with phase one expected to be finished by the end of 2019. Phases one, two, and three will have 32 acres in each phase growing under glass and lights. Phase four is anticipated to be 14 acres. The facility expects $110 million invested, adding up to 200 new full-time employees. Strawberries, peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes are to be grown and sold throughout New York State and the Eastern seaboard.

NewsChannel 9 recently visited where the future greenhouse will be. For that story, click here.

According to the CNYREDC, nearly $304 million of the $500 million URI award has been committed to 51 projects. This funding has leveraged nearly $820 million in private investment and a commitment to create or retain more than 4,600 jobs. This represents a nearly 4:1 return on investment. You can read the full report and learn more about other projects here.

CNYREDC Co-Chair Randy Wolken, who is also the President of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York (MACNY) spoke on the phone with NewsChannel 9 about the progress of using the URI Funding.

You can watch that below: