New York state has launched Round VII of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative, officially kicking off the annual competition for more than $800 million in state economic development resources.
The Consolidated Funding Application opened to applicants on May 1, enabling businesses, municipalities, nonprofits and members of the public to begin applying, through a single application, for assistance from dozens of state programs for projects that create jobs and help to revitalize communities.
“The Regional Economic Development Councils have successfully brought local communities together like never before, spurring economic growth from the ground up and creating jobs across New York,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “With the seventh round of the REDC awards, the state will continue its partnership with local governments and community leaders—making smart investments in our cities, towns and villages to give the Regional Councils the tools needed to build their communities for years to come.”
Through six rounds of the REDC competition, the Capital Region REDC, which includes Saratoga and Warren counties, has delivered $436.9 million for 608 projects, officials said.
Round VII of the REDC initiative will award more than $800 million in state resources across all 10 regions, including up to $225 million in performance-based grants and tax credits from Empire State Development, and approximately $575 million from two dozen state agency programs.
The governor said the REDC process has transformed New York state government’s approach to economic development, creating a statewide framework for bottom-up economic growth and streamlining the application process for state funding. Since 2011, the first year of the initiative, over $4.6 billion has been awarded to more than 5,200 projects that are projected to create and retain more than 210,000 jobs statewide.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who heads the Regional Economic Development Councils said, “By empowering the people who know their communities the best, the governor has transformed this state’s economic development strategy into one that is not only successful, but is built to last. As the chair of the Regional Councils, I have seen proof that this investment in innovation and technology has revitalized our economy and there is a new confidence among local elected officials. Projects initiated with REDC funding are redeveloping our downtowns, retaining and expanding businesses, and rebuilding our infrastructure for the 21st Century.”
Officials said regional council priorities in 2017 include:
• Identifying projects for the state’s burgeoning life sciences cluster.
• Identifying workforce development strategies, including collaboration with industry and educational institutions.
• Implementing strategies through the project pipeline.
• Measuring the performance and progress of the strategic plan.
To encourage the implementation of the REDC strategic plans and to continue to motivate investment opportunities and job creation, in 2017 the regional councils will compete for up to $150 million in capital grants and $75 million in Excelsior tax credits for projects identified by the councils as regional priorities in their communities.
Officials said by incentivizing the implementation of the strategic plans, the REDCs —composed of leaders from business, educational institutions, local governments, nonprofit groups and other stakeholders—are further motivated to work together to accomplish the regional vision.
The competition emphasizes performance and action to implement strategies, which encourages cooperation among the REDCs and representatives of the community that is critical to achieving successful economic development.
In 2017, all 10 regions will be competing for designation as a “top performer,” of which five will be selected and receive awards of up to $20 million in grant funds, while the remaining five regions, identified as regional awardees, will receive up to $10 million in grant funds. In 2016, Glens Falls was a recipient of the latter award.
The 2017 REDC Guidebook and list of available resources can be found at www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov. The deadline for applications is Friday, July 28, at 4 p.m. Applications submitted after the deadline will not be accepted. For applicants, the CFA is available at https://apps.cio.ny.gov/apps/cfa/.
According to officials, new aspects of the REDC competition in 2017 include closing the skills gap. Numerous studies have found that while science, technology, engineering, and math skills gaps are a large part of the challenge, they are by no means the only industries affected. Businesses from all industries cite the skills gap as a significant obstacle to business expansion.
REDCs are being asked to survey both industries and educational institutions in their region to identify skills gaps, as well as the programmatic availability of workforce training opportunities in high schools, community colleges, and universities. The findings will be incorporated into this year’s annual report, along with recommended strategies for bridging the gaps identified. The councils will work with members of the Regional Community College Councils on this initiative.