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Western New York Regional Economic Development Council submits 2016 progress report

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Wed, Oct 5th 2016 09:35 am

WNYREDC endorses 32 priority projects for round VI of Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Council initiative

The Western New York Regional Economic Development Council has submitted its 2016 progress report - titled "A Strategy for Prosperity" - to New York state. The progress report details the council's achievements in implementing its five-year strategic plan; reflects Western New York's progress on efforts to ensure sustainable and long-term growth in the five-county region, and to leverage the region's advantages in key industry sectors, including advanced manufacturing, agriculture, binational logistics, energy, health and life sciences, higher education, professional services and tourism.

In furtherance of these goals, strategies and initiatives, the report recommended 32 priority projects to advance the region's growth objectives. These projects, from Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties, represent a total proposed state investment of at least $25 million, leveraging $153 million in private and other funding for total project expenses of more than $178 million. Collectively, these priority projects would support the creation of 197 new jobs, 445 indirect jobs, the retention of 24 existing jobs, and leverage a return on investment of 7 to 1.

Detailed information about the WNYREDC's 2016 endorsed priority projects is available in the progress report at www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov/content/western-new-york.

The report also outlines the region's strong performance record in implementing its strategies and projects since 2011, the first round of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Council initiative. The first five rounds resulted in 403 projects moving forward in Western New York, 84 percent of which are completed or on schedule. In total, $356.4 million in state funding has been awarded to Western New York through the REDC process.

"The results we are seeing in our economy are outstanding," said Jeff Belt, Western New York Regional Economic Development Council co-chair and SolEpoxy CEO. "REDC strategies that focus investments on people and place-making are accelerating a regionwide turnaround that is attracting national attention. The proof is seen in our communities and it's reflected in our 2016 progress report. This year, we have prioritized projects to train our workforce, foster a culture of entrepreneurship, and realize smart growth in our cities and villages. These strategies provide the unifying framework that is enabling public, private and foundation investments to work together for the good of the region."

"There's no doubt that our region is transforming - it is evident in the hearts and minds of Western New Yorkers, across our physical landscape, and within key indicators of economic prosperity. And, nationally, WNY is being noticed as a region on the move," said University at Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi, Western New York Regional Economic Development Council co-chair. "Our progress report demonstrates how and where we are moving the needle, and how we will continue to progress on our path to prosperity. With the support of the state and our entire region over the last six years, and as we move forward, this collective support has and will be instrumental in ensuring that Western New York (has) a very bright future."

Round VI of the REDC initiative will award more than $750 million in state funding and tax incentives, including up to $175 million in capital grants and up to $70 million in Excelsior Tax Credits for projects and activities identified by the councils as regional priorities in their communities. Additionally, over $510 million from state agency programs will be awarded through the CFA process.

Regional Council priorities in 2016 include:

•Support the Downtown Revitalization Initiative Plan, and begin to identify priority projects in the defined community;

•Implementing strategies through the project pipeline;

•Training the workforce for today and tomorrow; and

•Measuring the performance and progress of the strategic plan and CFA projects.

To encourage the implementation of the Regional Economic Development Councils strategic plans, and to continue to motivate investment opportunities and job creation, the Regional Councils will compete in 2016 for up to $175 million in capital funds and $70 million in Excelsior Tax Credits for projects identified by the Regional Councils as priorities in their regions.

By incentivizing the implementation of the strategic plans, Regional Councils, businesses, educational institutions, local governments, not-for-profit groups and other stakeholders are further motivated to work together to accomplish the regional vision. While project funding will be awarded to all 10 Regional Councils through the 2016 CFA, the competition places emphasis on Regional Council performance and action to implement strategies. Encouraging genuine cooperation among the REDCs and representatives of the community is critical to achieving economic development success.

Round VI Awards

In 2016, all 10 REDCs will be competing for a designation as a "top performer." Five "top performers" will be selected and will receive up to $25 million in Empire State Development capital grant funding, with the remaining five regions receiving up to $10 million in Empire State Development capital grant funding. Additionally, each region will be eligible for up to $15 million in Excelsior Tax Credits to help attract and grow businesses in the region.

Later this fall, the strategic implementation assessment team, which is comprised of New York state agency commissioners and outside experts, will receive in-person presentations from each of the 10 REDCs as part of its review and recommendation process. The 2016 REDC awards will be announced before the end of the year.

About the Consolidated Funding Application

As part of Cuomo's efforts to improve the state's economic development model, a New York state consolidated funding application was created to streamline and expedite the grant application process. The CFA process marks a fundamental shift in the way state resources are allocated, ensuring less bureaucracy and greater efficiency to fulfill local economic development needs. The CFA serves as the single entry point for access to economic development funding, ensuring applicants no longer have to slowly navigate multiple agencies and sources without any mechanism for coordination. Now, economic development projects use the CFA as a support mechanism to access multiple state funding sources through one application, making the process quicker, easier and more productive.

To access the CFA, visit https://apps.cio.ny.gov/apps/cfa/.

About the Regional Economic Development Councils

The REDC initiative is a key component of Cuomo's approach to state investment and economic development. In 2011, Cuomo established 10 Regional Councils to develop long-term strategic plans for economic growth for their regions. The councils are public-private partnerships made up of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, local government, and nongovernmental organizations. The Regional Councils have redefined the way New York invests in jobs and economic growth by putting in place a community-based, bottom-up approach, and establishing a competitive process for state resources. After five rounds of the REDC process, nearly $4 billion has been awarded to more than 4,100 job creation and community development projects consistent with each regions strategic plans, projecting to create and retain more than 200,000 jobs.

For more information on the Regional Councils, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov.

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