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NY, IN Pursue Regional Strategies to Fuel High-Tech Economy

December 18, 2014

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced the fourth round of regional economic development grants to support tailored approaches to job creation in different areas of the state. The $709.2 million in awards are part of the state’s ongoing Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) initiative begun in 2011. Regional strategies have long been a key component of state development policy, enabling policymakers to encourage institutional partnerships with a focus on the specific needs of local economies. New York’s approach supports individual projects proposed by regional councils. Other models have been proposed in Indiana and Kentucky.

The New York Regional Council initiative added a few new components in its fourth round. Originally, the ten councils had been tasked with finding and proposing projects that were ready for investment while following a five-year strategic plan, coordinating regional economic development efforts, leveraging both public and private resources, eliminating local obstacles to growth and checking performance over time (see 2011 article on the launch). During the first three rounds, more than $2 billion has been invested by the state in 2,200 projects pitched by the councils. The fourth round included three new components for project selection. Regional strategies should now develop international economic connections, promote the participation of veterans in the workforce and support the state’s NY Rising Community Reconstruction plan projects, which assists communities in the aftermath of storm-related disasters.

A total of 852 projects in the ten council regions will receive a portion of the $709.2 million in awards.  Projects were pitched by representatives of the regional councils to a team of state agency commissioners and policy experts, who ranked the projects based on the state’s criteria.  Five of the councils, including the Mid-Hudson, Long Island, Southern Tier, Finger Lakes and Central New York regions received larger totals in recognition of their performance on past and current projects.

A sample of funded projects related to the innovation economy include:

  • Long Island - $1.5 million for Hofstra University’s STEM Learning Center, a “collaboratorium” combined advanced teaching and research facilities;
  • Southern Tier - $2.9 million for the Delaware County Broadband Initiative, extending high-speed internet to rural and underserved regions;
  • Finger Lakes - $5 million for High Tech Rochester’s Business Accelerator Cooperative, in particular an online Entrepreneur Resource Center;
  • Finger Lakes - $1.5 million for RIT’s MAGIC Laboratory, to promote the commercial viability of the university’s computer gaming and digital design programs; and,
  • Mohawk Valley - $1 million for the Marcy Nano Center, an advanced manufacturing facility at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute.

Read the New York announcement…

Indiana leaders are exploring a similar regional approach. Earlier this year, Gov. Mike Pence signed legislation instructing the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to conduct a study of regional economic performance and city-based strategies to promote development. The study, prepared with Fourth Economy Consulting, was published in October and provided benchmarks for regional performance, along with case studies of successful cities across the country. The Regional Cities Initiative is now moving forward, with IEDC leaders hoping to introduce legislation in 2015 that will support a regional approach to statewide economic development.

IEDC is now working to identify potential local leaders to coordinate regional projects and secure financing to match state funding. One local group, One Southern Indiana has launched a steering committee to serve as one such regional hub, and has begun developing an eight year plan for Floyd and Clark counties. The Indy Chamber has announced the effort is at the top of their list of legislative priorities for the coming session.

Read more about Indiana’s Regional Cities Initiative…

Indiana, New Yorkstate tbed, regionalism