This week the office of Joe Robach announced two major economic development programs – the Upstate Revitalization Initiative and Round V of the Regional Economic Development Councils – officially kicking off the 2015 competitions for $1.5 billion and up to $750 million in state economic development resources, respectfully.

New York’s Regional Councils have transformed the state’s economy over the past four years. The progress will continue with the largest single investment in the program and an unprecedented focus on revitalizing Upstate. Between the fifth round of the Regional Economic Development Council competition and the new $1.5 billion Upstate Revitalization Initiative, communities across the state will be able to invest in their many unique assets and expand opportunities for growth from the ground up. Joe Robach office said that every region is encouraged to come together and put their best plans forward as we continue to create a brighter and more prosperous future for New York State.

This year, the 10 Regional Councils will once again compete for awards from up to $750 million in state economic development resources through Round V of the REDC competition. Additionally, through the new Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI), seven regions – Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Capital District, and Mid-Hudson – are eligible to compete for three $500 million awards, which will be disbursed at a rate of $100 million per year for five years.

The three Upstate winners of the URI will receive approximately $130 million each this year ($100 million in URI funding, and an estimated $30 million from Round V of the REDC competition). Aside from those regions, three regions will earn “Top Performer” distinction in the REDC competition and will receive approximately $105 million each. Finally, the remaining four regions will receive approximately $90 million each through the REDC competition – which is more than the average amount awarded to the top place finisher in prior year. The office of Joe Robach noted that this approach ensures that no region is a loser, while also maintaining the competitive nature that has worked so well to bring local business, academic, and community leaders together to develop long term, impressive economic visions for their regions.

The Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) will open to applicants on May 1 with a deadline of July 31 at 4:00pm, allotting more time than past years for the Regional Councils to solicit and identify projects in their areas. This extended period also provides additional time for businesses, municipalities, not-for-profits and the public to apply for assistance from dozens of state funding programs for job creation and community development projects.

Upstate Revitalization Initiative

For the seven Upstate regions eligible for the $1.5 billion Upstate Revitalization Initiative, the regions will submit a “Revitalization Plan” as an addendum to their progress report. In addition to the priorities outlined in the 2015 Progress Report update, the Upstate Revitalization Plan should provide a more detailed analysis of the region and develop ideas and strategies to transform the regional economy.

The purpose of each region’s Revitalization Plan will be to 1) provide a well-researched and credible argument that the region is ready for revitalization; and 2) to describe the transformation that will happen in the region if granted those funds. Each REDC should address in their plan concepts such as job creation, increasing net wealth in the region, private sector investment, and other key indicators.

URI designated regions will receive a total allocation of $500 million, at a rate of $100 million per year for five years. As part of the Revitalization Plan, each region will submit a list of initial projects they recommend for funding should they be selected a “Best Plan Awardee” of the competition. Each URI region will be required to identify potential projects seeking URI funds and may continue to do so after the CFA closes.

Examples of the types of projects or how funds will be used include:
•Infrastructure targeted to job creation and economic growth;
•Acquisition and development of sites for industrial growth;
•Job training and employment readiness, particularly when focused on key local economic sectors;
•Encouragement of and support to start-up companies and their founders;
•Creation of venture capital funds;
•Direct support of companies in sectors targeted by REDC;
•Support innovation, particularly college and university based;
•Targeted support to companies to assist them in keeping up with technological advances; and
•Creation of opportunities for hard to place workers, including veterans, ex-offenders, low income, under educated, refugees, immigrants and persons with special needs.

Joe Robach added that the URI Revitalization Plans will be due to the State on October 5, 2015.