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Governor visits new center site


Governor George Pataki talks with Binghamton President Lois B. DeFleur and New York Senator Thomas Libous after the announcement of the site for the new downtown Education and Community Center.
University officials, community leaders and downtown merchants were on hand to welcome New York Governor George Pataki Monday as he visited what may become the future site of Binghamton’s new Education and Community Development Center.

The details are still being worked out, but the “future preferred site” for the new facility is a parking area adjacent to the Holiday Inn Arena in downtown Binghamton. Once complete, the center will house programs for Binghamton University, Broome Community College and Empire State College. Officials also hope it will become a focal point for renewed economic vitality in the downtown area.

“What we want to see here are jobs, but more importantly, thousands of students who will be shopping and supporting your community…creating more street life and more excitement for the downtown to grow,” Pataki said. “We’ll continue to push for educational excellence and to invest in areas like downtown Binghamton. “This is an important step forward to helping make sure Binghamton has a critical mass of students, shoppers and vitality downtown,” Pataki said.

Higher education is a vital component for creating economic growth in the state, said Pataki, who was in the Binghamton area last week to announce the expansion of jobs at Lockheed-Martin. The jobs were originally slated to go the North Carolina.

“One of the reasons for (those jobs coming to New York) is the quality of our workforce and the reason for the quality workforce is the quality of our educational institutions,” Pataki said.

Binghamton, he said, is “one of the greatest institutions of higher education in the state and one of the finer educational institutions in the country.”

The center would not have been possible without the cooperation of Binghamton University, Broome Community College and Empire State College, Pataki said as he praised President Lois B. DeFleur for her “clear understanding of the importance of bringing this facility into downtown Binghamton.”

The state has earmarked $25 million for the downtown academic center. State Sen. Thomas Libous, who worked to assure the funding for the downtown center, also paid tribute to the merchants attending Monday’s announcement.

“We are here because of all of you,” he said. “This project will tie this together – to have a University and community college presence in our downtown community. This is really the glue we need to hold together the great work already in place. “This was a team effort from the beginning and I’m anxious to see the reality take place,” he said.

Each of the three educational partners will offer different types of programs at the new facility, said DeFleur. The University will move its master’s degree in public administration program, Continuing Education and Outreach, internship programs and the Translation Referral Service to the center. Broome Community College will offer workplace development and Empire State College will provide undergraduate and graduate programming aimed at non-traditional students.

“These are the kinds of educational opportunities and services that will truly enhance the downtown,” she said. “The bottom line is that our educational institutions are so closely linked to our community and our futures.”

On hand to welcome Pataki to Binghamton, Mayor Richard Bucci said that for a number of years New York’s mayors have been looking at a variety of ways to revitalize urban areas and this center fits in with the strategic ways community leaders are looking at using the resources of New York to catalyze the economy.

“All of us being here shows how significant and important today’s announcement is,” he said. “This significant University presence in Binghamton has profound implications for this city for years and years to come. The dividends it pays for years and years will be truly important.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08