Gov. Cuomo meets with the press after announcing members of the Capital Region Regional Economic Development Council at Schenectady County Community College on Thursday, July 28.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday, July 28, announced the members of the Capital Region Regional Economic Development Council at Schenectady County Community College.
Politicians from state and local governments were in attendance along with guests invited by the governor as he announced the council would be led by Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Michael Castellana, president and CEO of SEFCU. Each of the 10 regional councils is chaired by Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy and has co-chairs from the academic and business community.
The councils will compete against one another to submit plans for economic development to attain the biggest chunk of the $1 billion in state funding. The Capital Region council represents Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Warren and Washington counties.
“This is going to be the first day in the Capital Region where the competition starts to really transform the economy,” said Duffy. “I don’t think any governor in our history has accomplished more in the first seven months of his term than Gov. Cuomo has.”
Creating jobs for the state, said Duffy, is the governor’s main concern. The approach is from the “ground up,” he said, with a focus on communities finding solutions to their problems.
“In the past, it was all fragmented. … Now the governor has put in place a unified application process,” said Duffy. “You cannot choose to split the state. You cannot choose to pit Upstate versus Downstate. This is going to be regional based like neighborhoods across the state.”
The applications are due from all the councils by the end of November, and the state will decide on funding by the end of the following month, to bring a bright or bleak start for a region in the new year.
Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, said becoming a more business-friendly state and creating jobs is vital to economic recovery.
“For too long, New York has been one of the worst business climates in the nation, and it is keeping business from growing in our state,” said Farley. “By focusing on community, rather than using a generic approach, the councils can set priorities and tailor a long-term strategy to fit the specific regions across our state.”
During the beginning of the event, SCCC President Quintin Bullock highlighted how the college is trying to prepare students for the local job markets.
“New York institutions of higher education train the next generation of our workforce, create good jobs for our local citizens, develop the innovation that will drive our industries into the future and forge partnerships with businesses to make sure what we teach in the classroom is preparing our students for the real world careers that will keep them here in New York state,” said Bullock.
Farley praised the Democratic governor, speaking highly of Cuomo and his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.
“Gov. Cuomo is recognized nationally as one of the most successful and dynamic governors in the United States of America,” said Farley. “We were able to pass an on-time budget with no new taxes. This young man knows how to work with the Legislature, how to work with people.”
Creating the councils is phase two of Cuomo’s economic development plan. He said there isn’t a single approach for all of the regions, and even within each region there could be different approaches.
“You are 10 different reasons. You are 10 different economies and each one is a little different,” said Cuomo. “Each region has its own strengths, its own challenges, its own opportunities, its own dynamic, and the solution is within that reason. We can help, we can incentivize … but it is about you to make it happen.”
Cuomo said the councils need to develop regional plans that are sustainable and comprehensive and utilize public and private sector partnerships to create jobs. He said one of the biggest challenges is the state’s economy works in regions and all the lines and boundaries need must be looked beyond.
“What we are talking about here today … this has all been done and tested and tried hundreds and hundreds of times by communities all across the nation, so we know the approach works,” said Cuomo. “The concept that young people would leave New York to go anywhere else is totally foreign to me. … There is no place out there that has anything over New York State.”
The “old way,” said Cuomo, is the state would tell a region or area to come up with a plan and a certain amount of dollars would be given out. Using the councils in a competitive nature will help facilitate better plans through competition.
“We want plans that work. This is taxpayers’ money, and it is an investment in the state,” said Cuomo. “We want plans that actually produce jobs and keep people here.”
He said the competition might make people work harder and get more inspired, which could lead to better plans. The federal government moved toward competitive funding 20 years ago, he said, but the state has fallen behind in results and performance measures after writing checks.
“Some communities, frankly, come up with good plans, and some communities, frankly, don’t come up with good plans. The communities that don’t come up with good plans, it would be a waste to fund them,” he said.
The Capital District’s council will meet for the first time on Tuesday, Aug. 9, at the University of Albany at 9:30 a.m. For information on the councils, visit nyworks.ny.gov.