Details Emerge on How New York's Regional Councils will Operate

August 03, 2011

The 10 regional councils established earlier this year to stimulate economic development and improve the business climate statewide are tasked with five primary responsibilities, and can compete for funding from a pool of $1 billion to support projects they determine to be a part of their regional strategy. Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently unveiled a blueprint for how the councils will operate with information regarding resource allocation, structure and leadership, and performance measurement.

In the first two years, the councils will focus on two key tasks: developing and adopting an initial five-year strategic plan, and implementing the plans and evaluating their performance. The initial strategic plans are due Nov. 14, 2011, and should identify projects ready for investment. A review committee will analyze, score and rank each plan based on criteria established by the governor's office. Plans will be reviewed for allocation of $200 million in capital funds and tax credits appropriated in the FY12 enacted budget. Last month, Gov. Cuomo announced additional funding and resources from state agencies participating in the councils that when combined create a pool of up to $1 billion.

Regional councils are tasked with five primary responsibilities, including developing and maintaining the initial five-year strategic plan, coordinating economic development efforts within the region, leveraging public and private resources, identifying and eliminating obstacles to growth, and implementing performance measures to ensure long-term success.

Once strategic plans have been adopted, Empire State Development (ESD) will produce an annual economic report to the governor beginning Dec. 31, 2012, with sections on statewide business climate and progress reports on the work of the councils. These reports will track two sets of metrics by region. The first is a set of standard elements that will be measured and benchmarked across all regions and will include labor force indicators, educational measures, business starts, and minority and women business enterprise certifications. The second set will be specific to each council and will track metrics linked to each region's unique set of goals.

Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy will serve as the chair of each regional council and lead a statewide Chairman's Committee. The governor will appoint two vice chairs in each region, a representative from the business community and a representative from the academic community. ESD Regional Directors will serve as executive directors of their respective regional council.

The regional councils are modeled after the federal Empowerment Zone program in the sense that they promote a bottom-up, community-driven planning process through which regions identify their own redevelopment goals and plans for achieving those goals, according to the governor's office.

Download Open for Business: A New State Government Approach to Economic Growth at: http://nyworks.ny.gov/assets/documents/Regional-Council-Guide-Book.pdf

New Yorkregions, strategic plan, state budget, state tbed