BUSINESS REPORT: Regional Councils-Engines for Growth in the Empire State

By Jack Rogers
From the September/October 2012 issue

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo boldly moved to fundamentally change New York State’s approach to economic development, he recognized that the old top-down approach would no longer work.

Today, the Regional Economic Development Councils the governor created have transformed the Empire State’s model for job creation and business development.

Located in every region of the state, with members from the business, academic and labor communities, Regional Councils already have been successful in helping create jobs and generate private sector investment to boost local economies. Each Council created a strategic plan to guide business investment and promote growth, and in less than a year, all 739 projects that were awarded a total of $785 million in state funds in December 2011 are underway, with more than 75 percent already reaching their first achievement milestone.

New York also has received thousands of applications for job-creating projects for a second round of up to $762 million in state resources that will be awarded in this fall. Most importantly, each Council has moved full speed ahead with the implementation of their strategic plans, which provide the blueprint for maximizing local assets and key industry clusters to generate economic growth.

To award the first round of $785 million in development funding, a Strategic Plan Review Committee, including experts from the public and private sectors, was established to analyze and score each region’s Strategic Plan based on enumerated criteria including:

  • Regional economic development vision and how well it drove an economically sustainable future for the region;
  • Participation by the Council members, public, and stakeholders;
  • Strategies and how well they addressed critical issues and opportunities in the Strategic Plan;
  • Implementation plan;
  • Leveraging of regional resources, and how well other public, private and non-profit funds and investments would be used.