SNAPSHOTS: 60 Seconds…with Kenneth Adams, President and CEO, Empire State Development

Kenneth Adams, President & CEO, Empire State Development

By Business Facilities Staff
From the September/October 2012 issue

New York has created 10 Regional Economic Development Councils. CEO Kenneth Adams explains the state’s strategy.

BF: What makes regional strategic plans for growth a better approach than a statewide plan?
KA: Gov. Cuomo recognized that the old, Albany-centric, top-down approach to economic development wasn’t working, so he created Regional Economic Development Councils to fundamentally change New York’s model for job creation and business growth. Regional Councils are transforming the way the State invests in economic development by shifting to a locally-driven strategic planning process which empowers individual areas to develop, invest in, and advance regional solutions and priority job-creating projects.

BF: How does Empire State Development interact with the REDCs?  
KA: As the State’s chief economic development agency, ESD serves as the primary administrative agency overseeing the Regional Council initiative. Our mission of promoting business and job growth through the use of financial assistance incentives, programs, and strategic economic planning mirrors the work of Regional Councils. In fact, the Regional Directors for ESD serve dual roles as the Executive Directors for each of the Regional Councils, ensuring that we are working collectively and cooperatively to get our regions the economic development tools they need to spur business growth.

BF: What key criteria were used to determine which region had the best plans and deserved funding in the first round?
KA: A Strategic Plan Review Committee, including experts from the public and private sectors, scored each plan based on criteria including the region’s economic development vision, how the plan would be implemented and leverage resources, and how public, private and non-profit funds and investments would be used.

BF: How has New York’s new Consolidated Funding Application streamlined the process of bringing projects to fruition?
KA: The CFA was created to serve as the primary entry point that enables businesses and other entities to apply to multiple agency funding sources for economic development resources through a single, web-based application. The CFA process marks a fundamental shift in the way economic development resources are allocated, ensuring less bureaucracy and greater efficiency to fulfill local needs. Through the CFA, economic development project applicants now have access to a streamlined and coordinated system to help them create jobs and invest in New York’s economy. Businesses will no longer have to slowly navigate a complicated and uncoordinated system that failed to put New Yorkers back to work.

BF: The New NY Works For Business campaign is a high-profile effort to rebrand the state. What is the key message you want to deliver?
KA: The campaign shows the nation why New York is a premier place for businesses to grow, thrive and expand, creating jobs and revenue. Bringing in business is about showing businesses that we have the tools to compete and help them grow. n