Regions are consulting with the state to identify a strong or emerging industry cluster on which to focus their job creation and investment strategies.
At the end of July, communities and businesses throughout New York submitted their annual applications for a broad range of state funding programs. State agencies will now begin reviewing those proposals to evaluate how to allocate $530 million for everything from downtown and waterfront revitalization to factory expansions, infrastructure improvements, arts programming, and workforce training. The state’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) will also review them and make funding recommendations based on projects’ alignment with local opportunities and plans.
But upstate headlines are dominated by the race to earn one of the three $500 million awards under what is being called the Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI). The Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mid-Hudson, Mohawk Valley, North Country, and Southern Tier are eligible to compete for this unprecedented sum of economic development funds made possible by settlements the state reached with banks in the wake of the foreclosure crisis. After a tussle this spring with some legislators and some other advocates of spending the money directly on infrastructure and other needs, the Cuomo administration was able to preserve its vision of applying these funds in a dramatic extension of his region-based, competition-driven economic development model. You can read the competition guidelines here.
The ten Councils are also busy writing their annual progress reports to the governor, which double as plans for the coming year and are the basis on which the administration awards an additional tranche of economic development dollars. Of the seven regions that do not receive a URI award, three will be designated as “top performers” and receive another $45 million in Empire State Development capital grants and Excelsior tax credits; and the remaining four will receive $30 million in Empire State Development capital grants and Excelsior tax credits. This is the fifth year of the competition, which was inaugurated in 2011 with the creation of the Councils. A new and important feature of this year’s REDC competition is the requirement to develop Regional Economic Cluster Plans: Regions are consulting with the state to identify a strong or emerging industry cluster on which to focus their job creation and investment strategies.
Here’s the timeline for all of these moving parts:
- July 31: Consolidated Funding Applications were submitted
- September 21: Regional Economic Development Councils submit annual progress reports
- October 5: Seven eligible Regional Economic Development Councils submit Upstate Revitalization Initiative plans
- Fall: Awards announced for the annual REDC competition (including CFAs) and for the Upstate Revitalization Initiative