CuomobuffaloGov. Andrew Cuomo is staying out of a political turf war over the placement of a high-tech research center in Rochester, saying the siting of the facility is largely a side issue.

In an exclusive interview on Capital Tonight Friday evening, Cuomo dismissed the fight between waged by officials involved with the expansion of SUNY’s nanotechnology research and local Rochester-area leaders as a “skirmish.”

Cuomo similarly insisted the $600 million project was moving forward.

“It’s going forward. You had a little intramural skirmish on location siting, but you know, who cares at the end of the day,” Cuomo said. “We’ll pick the best location.”

Cuomo, along with Vice President Joe Biden, this month unveiled the plan to construct a photonics research center in downtown Rochester, but there is disagreement over where exactly the facility should be built.

Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, a Cuomo ally in the Legislature, backs placing the Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation in the Sibley Building. Business leaders in Rochester and the president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Dr. Alain Kaloyeros, supports the former Bausch + Lomb building now known as the Legacy Tower.

In a statement, Rep. Louise Slaughter said the dispute “is not about office space.”

“It’s about leadership of the photonics center and that Rochester-area leaders should decide where the headquarters is located. I worked for three years to achieve this and we will not be deterred by one man’s ego,” Slaughter said.

Nevertheless, Cuomo said he continues to support Kaloyeros, who has been credited with the expansion of high-tech industries across upstate regions by replicating a model first brought to the Albany area.

Cuomo said he stood by Kaloyeros in the effort.

“Dr. Kayloyeros had a vision that he asked the state to invest in,” he said. “The vision was nanotechnology. His vision was exactly right. Now it’s gotten so big that its gotten to expand and we’re bringing it all across upstate New York in one way or the other. He’s been such an asset for the state that we owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude. Yes, I stand by him 100 percent.”

More broadly, Cuomo has credited himself with placing an emphasis on the upstate economy through state and private-sector investments. Cuomo was in Utica on Thursday announced a multi-billion-dollar investment in a nanotechnology research and development center, which will include General Electric Co. has an anchor tenet.

“Have I taken it upon myself to be the advocate for upstate New York? Yes, because they are outgunned in the legislative process,” Cuomo said. “You wouldn’t have this investment in upstate New York otherwise.”