SARANAC LAKE - State Sen. Betty Little says Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently spoke with the chairman of Trudeau Institute's board of trustees about the prospect of the Trudeau leaving Saranac Lake.
Little said she contacted Cuomo last week to follow up on a conversation the two had about Trudeau's possible relocation shortly after he was elected in November.
"He said, 'Who can I call?'" Little said Wednesday. "I said, 'Maybe the chairman of their board of trustees, Ben Brewster.' So he called and spoke with him. I think their board is perhaps beginning to realize the importance of - I'm sure they already knew it - that any move or partial move would be devastating to the Saranac Lake area, the community and the Adirondacks."
Sen. Betty Little
(Enterprise file photo)
According to Little, Brewster told Cuomo that the Institute is in the beginning stages of evaluating its options and said that no decisions had been made. A message left with Cuomo's press office Wednesday wasn't immediately returned.
Little said reaching out to Cuomo for help is just one of several things she's done in recent weeks to try to keep Trudeau from leaving Saranac Lake. She said she came to Saranac Lake and not with Trudeau Director David Woodland and Terry Gach, the Institute's vice president for institutional advancement; she called Brewster herself and wrote letters to each member of Trudeau's board; and she talked with Empire State Development President and CEO Dennis Mullen, who also met separately with Trudeau officials.
Little said she came away from her meeting with Trudeau officials feeling somewhat discouraged.
"They have to tell us what they need, and I think that's where I wasn't comfortable after I was there," she said. "It was almost like they weren't interested in finding out what we could do. That was my impression from ESD, who had met with them, and when I met with them."
Meanwhile, Little said she believes officials in other states are working to lure Trudeau out of New York. She said she was told by "reliable" sources that Trudeau representatives had visited two sites, one in North Carolina and one in Florida. Little believes the North Carolina site is the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, which village Mayor Clyde Rabideau outed in November as a location Trudeau was considering, based on his unnamed sources. Little said she didn't know more specifically what location in Florida Trudeau may be considering.
"There are people who constantly say the state shouldn't be giving grants, money and tax breaks to companies to stay here, and yet all these companies are being wooed by other states," Little said. "Trudeau is no different than any other. Other states are offering them buildings, grants and tax breaks, so New York does have to be competitive and we will have to see how the state can be helpful in support of their efforts.
"There's a lot of things that can be done. They probably need more fiber and broadband. Certainly if we could improve their connectivity with hospitals, universities and other institutes throughout the world, that would, I think be beneficial for staying at this location."
Little said the consultants the Institute has hired to research Trudeau's options for future growth will be presenting their preliminary findings at a Trudeau board meeting later this month. Although she's received no guarantees, Little said she doesn't believe the board will make a decision at that meeting, based on what she's been told personally by Trudeau officials and Cuomo, from his conversation with Brewster.
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