Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today hosted the Regional Economic Development Councils to hear from Co-Chairs on the economic successes to date that have occurred as a result of the Regional Council planning which has transformed the way New York invests in economic development and creates jobs. Currently, all 739 projects that are receiving state funds are underway and more than 75 percent have already reached their first milestone. The meeting featured progress updates from each of the 10 regions on implementing the strategic plans and job-creating projects. The meeting also provided a preview of regional economic development planning for the coming year.
During the meeting, the Governor made announcements on key programs and new initiatives that will support the next round of the Regional Councils and rebuild New Yorks economy, including the Connect NY Program which will provide $25 million in grants to bring high speed Internet access to unserved communities throughout the state.
Over the past year, we have seen that regional collaborations and a locally-driven approach to job creation are effective in once again making New York work and putting New Yorkers back to work, Governor Cuomo said. Todays meeting shows the incredible progress we have made and the new programs planned for next year as we continue to build a New New York that supports business and creates jobs.
The meeting provided an open forum for each region to discuss their experience throughout the first year of the Regional Council initiative. Each region delivered a presentation highlighting the progress being made during the implementation of their strategic plans and advancement of priority job-creating projects. Representatives from the Councils also discussed best practices and gave a preview of the 2012 Regional Council process.
In addition, the Governor discussed the following new economic programs that will create jobs and support businesses as part of next years Regional Council Awards.
Connect NY - $25 Million High-Speed Internet Access Program
Governor Cuomo launched the Connect NY Broadband grant program. Starting tomorrow the state will begin accepting applications in the Connect NY program which provides $25 million in grant funding to promote broadband Internet access across the state. The grants are made available through the Regional Councils and Empire State Development and will help expand high speed Internet access in rural upstate and urban areas of New York.
Expanding high-speed Internet was identified last year as a priority by the Regional Councils in order to help local businesses expand their ability to reach customers and encourage broadband providers to improve Internet access for local communities. Broadband Internet grants, such as Connect NY, both spur investment by service providers in communities and help boost economic development in each region by expanding the ability of local businesses to reach consumers globally.
The grants will be awarded in the regions to Internet service companies and in partnership with local governments and economic development organizations. Applications will be reviewed and scored by the Regional Councils based on the following metrics.
- Providing new service to areas with little or no Internet service. Additional weight will be given for plans that provide more Internet access to the local public through libraries, parks, and other community areas, help local health centers provide new online access to health records and services, and expand Internet service in economically distressed areas
- Creating a plan for educating local businesses and residents on how to use broadband to increase economic development and enhance quality of life
- Building off existing Internet networks to more efficiently increase high speed Internet service in communities that have broadband in only some areas but not throughout the area
- Receiving the endorsement of the local Regional Council and support of community stakeholders
Regional Economic Development Council Progress Tours
Governor Cuomo also announced that beginning in mid-September, the Strategic Implementation Assessment Team will visit each of the 10 regions, to hear oral presentations and participate in a tour of the Councils implementation activity and priority projects. These tours will make New Yorks economic development process more transparent, open and publicly-accessible.
The Regional Council initiative turned the old Albany-centric, top-down approach to economic development upside down, and replaced it with a bottom-up, locally-driven strategic planning process to guide the investment of state resources. The tours will provide on-the-ground assessment and interaction with the Councils to foster greater collaboration, encourage strategic plan implementation, and advance priority projects that will stimulate and accelerate economic growth.
Thanks to the vision of Governor Cuomo and the innovative strategies of the Regional Councils, New York now has a community-based approach to spur job creation and drive local economic growth, said Lieutenant Governor Duffy. Today is an exciting opportunity to have an open public dialogue about the great progress that has been made throughout the first year of the Regional Council initiative and the steps we are taking to build on that success in the coming year.
When Governor Cuomo created Regional Councils, he had one goal in mind create jobs, jobs, and more jobs, said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams. Now, one year later, we are seeing the tremendous success the Regional Council process has had in helping create jobs and generate private sector investment to boost our local economies.
Regional Councils & the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA)
Last year, Governor Cuomo launched Regional Councils and the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) to fundamentally change New Yorks operating model for economic development and job creation. Located in every region of the state, with members from the business, academic and labor communities, Regional Councils transformed the way the State invests in economic development, shifting from a top-down approach to a community-based, performance-driven model which empowers individual regions to develop, invest in, and advance regional solutions and priority job-creating projects to spur economic growth.
In December 2011, after months of consideration by the Regional Councils and input from more than one hundred public meetings, forums and community workshops, $785 million was awarded for job creation and priority projects consistent with each regions strategic plans.
To build on the success of the first round, a second round of up to $762 million in state resources was launched in 2012. Funding for the second round includes $220 million ($150 million in capital and $70 million in tax credits from the Excelsior Jobs Program) to implement regional strategic plans and continue to advance priority job-creating projects, and up to $542 million from state agency programs through the CFA to support regionally-significant economic development projects.
Five awards of $25 million will be made, and the competition will have two parts:
- First, the four regions with the 2011 Best Plans will compete for two awards of up to $25 million each in capital funds. Awards will be made based on the progress the Regional Councils have made implementing their strategies and evolution of their strategic plans
- Second, the remaining six regions will compete for three awards of up to $25 million each in capital funds. Awards will be made based on the regions revised and updated strategic plans and progress made implementing their strategies
The balance of the $25 million in capital will be available for priority projects in the remaining five regions. In addition, each region will also be eligible for up to $10 million in Excelsior Tax Credits to help attract and grow business in the region.
The 2012 CFA will make $542 million in economic development resources available from 21 programs across a dozen state agencies. The agency programs provide resources for projects focused on community development, direct assistance to business, waterfront revitalization, energy and environmental improvements, sustainability, workforce development, agricultural economic development and low-cost financing.
The deadline for submission of applications for round two funding was July 16, 2012, and funding awards are expected to be announced this fall. Additionally, each Regional Council will be submitting to the State on September 14, 2012, a one-year progress report, which will track the improvements, adjustments, and implementation of their strategic plans and the progress of their priority projects, as well as their list of 2012 priority projects.