Coalition of Capital Region State Lawmakers, Elected Officials, Business and Labor Leaders Urge Inclusion of $750M Wadsworth Lab Consolidation in Final State Budget
Capital Region state lawmakers Assemblymembers Patricia Fahy, John McDonald, and Senator Neil Breslin were joined today by a coalition of elected officials and Capital Region business and labor leaders to urge inclusion of $750M for consolidation and rebuilding of the Wadsworth Labs in the state’s final budget. Both the Senate and Assembly one-house budget resolutions for FY2021–22 included the full funding.
A needed investment of this scale in Wadsworth will reclaim the world class-status of its life science labs, while positioning the Capital Region to further cement this area as a national epicenter of health, science, and technological research at its new Harriman Campus location. Currently, 800 jobs are tied to Wadsworth, and this upgrade and consolidation will create a multiplier effect of economic activity and grow even more jobs such as in the construction trades, public health sciences, and more.
Last year’s emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and Wadsworth’s invaluable role throughout it underscores the importance of maintaining its status as an internationally recognized public health laboratory. Investments in infrastructure of this magnitude will be critical to the state’s post-COVID recovery, and statewide labor leaders in support of the project wrote in a Mar. 9 letter that the investment would “create much-needed construction and permanent jobs in the Capital Region…bolster the struggling local economy…stimulating more spending in local businesses.”
Finally, Capital Region leaders urged New York State’s Legislative leaders and the Executive to incorporate budget language to fund this transformative project into the state’s final budget, and to potentially draw on federal funds in the American Rescue Plan to assist with the project’s cost.
“We’re on the cusp of realizing the Capital Region’s most transformative infrastructure investment of the next decade given the influx of federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan,” said Assemblymember Patricia Fahy. “Finalizing this new investment stands to attract a truly specialized workforce, and its location in Albany at the Harriman Campus will help significantly expand the city’s tax base, but also contribute to a developing scientific ecosystem located at the core of the Capital Region. As negotiations on the state budget end next week, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the legislature to ensure the final fiscal plan includes this critically-important funding.”
“It is imperative that we continue to fund one of the scientific gems of the Capital Region in the New York State Budget this year, the Wadsworth Labs,” said Senator Neil D. Breslin. “The economic benefits will be supplemented by creating new public health and construction trades jobs. The Center was one of the first labs in the State to test samples of COVID-19 once it became prevalent, so we must maintain financial support so they can continue their important work.”
“The restoration of funding for the Wadsworth Center in this year’s budget is critical,” said Assemblymember John McDonald. “Wadsworth has been an important component of public health for generations that has only been more enhanced during its tireless leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment in the Wadsworth Center is critical for future generations regarding public health but also for employment and continued growth for the Capital Region and the State of New York.”
“The last year amid COVID-19 has once again reminded us of the importance of investing in public health research. Not providing the funding necessary to rebuild and upgrade Wadsworth Labs, which has been critical to our response to the pandemic, would be a huge mistake and a missed opportunity to invest in hundreds of well-paying jobs here in Albany County,” said Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy. “I want to thank Assembly Members Fahy and McDonald and Senator Breslin for fighting for the $750 million we need in their one-house budgets. Now we need Governor Cuomo to come to the table in the final agreement.”
“I am so grateful to our Capital City Delegation of Senator Breslin and Assemblymembers Fahy and McDonald for securing $750 million in investment for a new Wadsworth Laboratory at the Harriman Campus in both the Senate and Assembly One-House Budget Resolutions,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. “This transformative project will create new temporary and permanent jobs and keep this important public health resource here in New York’s Capital City. I join the chorus of leaders calling on the Executive Branch to follow the Legislature’s lead and ensure the inclusion of this funding in the State’s final budget.”
“The Greater Capital Region Building and Construction Trades Council, representing more than 20,000 union construction workers, is excited to support the Wadsworth Labs expansion,” said Mike Lyons, President of the Greater Capital Region Building and Construction Trades Council. “The pandemic has taken a toll on the state and local communities, but if this project moves forward, it will be an enormous economic driver for the region, employing dozens of our local members right in their own backyards.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored yet again the importance of relationships between public agencies and university researchers,” said University at Albany President Havidán Rodríguez. “A new, state-of-the-art Wadsworth Lab on the Harriman Campus will only deepen UAlbany’s three-decade relationship with Wadsworth and the New York State Department of Health — leveraging our institutions’ collective capacity to protect New Yorkers from the next public health crisis.”
“As the capital of New York State, it is essential, perhaps now more than ever, that the City of Albany be at the forefront of innovation in science, as well as STEM in general, and other industries,” said Anthony Gaddy, President & CEO of the Upstate New York Black Chamber of Commerce. “In order to do so, we need investments in not only business, but also in people — diverse talent that we can retain because there are opportunities here that will lead to even more investment in our city.”
“The Capital Region Chamber and CEG have been strong and constant advocates for the new Wadsworth Laboratory Center at Harriman Campus,” stated Mark Eagan, President & CEO of the Capital Region Chamber and Center for Economic Growth. “While I was stunned by the fact that the governor did not included funding for Wadsworth in his budget, I am delighted that the Senate and Assembly have included this funding in their budgets. This would not have been possible without the leadership of Senator Breslin and Assemblymembers Fahy and McDonald. Now, with their continued support, we must ensure that this funding is included in the final budget agreement.”
“The Wadsworth Lab project is critical to the Capital Region,” said Mike Elmendorf, President & CEO of the Associated General Contractors of New York State (AGC NYS), New York’s leading statewide construction industry association. “It would likely be the largest public construction project in the Capital District since the Empire State Plaza was built. It would generate more than 1.7 million trade hours of work, supporting families throughout our region and driving millions and millions of economic activity at a time our economy is struggling to recover from the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic — not to mention the hundreds of workers and professionals who staff the lab. But, much more than that, it is a critical project for our whole State and public health across New York. The construction of a new facility to replace an aging and obsolete lab was deemed necessary before the unprecedented challenges created by the COVID pandemic. It is plainly even more important now. We commend Senator Breslin and Assemblymembers Fahy and McDonald for their leadership in moving to restore funding for this crucial project — as well as our partners in local government, business and labor for standing in solidarity to make it happen.”
“Investing in the Wadsworth Center is investing in this region’s economic growth. By funding the Wadsworth Center, we can provide a state-of-the-art facility that can enhance the scientific work these laboratories do each day, retain the hundreds of staff who live in our communities and help attract future employees to the area,” Albany County Legislature Chairman Andrew Joyce said. “I want to thank Assemblymembers Fahy and McDonald and Senator Breslin for their advocacy to ensure this funding is included in the budget. The state made a promise to fund the Wadsworth Center and it should keep that promise to ensure its future in this region.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic revealed how critical our public health infrastructure is to the health of our nation,” said Albany Chief City Auditor Dorcey Applyrs. “As a public health professional, I know the value of Wadsworth, hence, its international reputation. Wadsworth’s role during the pandemic has been invaluable. I join my elected colleagues and business and labor leaders in strong support of the inclusion of $750 million for the consolidation and rebuilding of Wadsworth Labs in the state’s budget.”
“During the pandemic, Wadsworth labs reminded us of how necessary their work is on an international scale, investing in needed infrastructure for these essential labs is exactly what is needed for the revitalization of our community and for the health of New Yorkers and the world,” said Albany Common Councilmember Ginnie Farrell. “Thank you to Senator Breslin and Assemblymembers Fahy and McDonald for having the vision to fight for this needed investment, bringing jobs to our community while keeping New Yorkers and the world safe. It’s my hope the Governor will follow the lead of the Senate and Assembly and move forward with investing in our health, safety, and community.”