Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:03

$200 Million Competition

By Daniel Schechtman | Business

SARATOGA SPRINGS - The Capital Region Economic Development Council (CREDC) is working to establish a five-year strategic plan for regional economic growth, and they need your help.

The council gathered at the Saratoga Springs City Center Thursday morning, October 20, to provide an update on their progress and allow opportunity for public comment. As one of 10 councils formed in August, the CREDC is tasked with developing a regional economic development plan as part of Governor Cuomo's community-based initiative to stimulate growth and job creation statewide.

According to Jola Szubielski, state press officer, $1 billion in state resources have been set aside to support the regional councils, including $200 million in competitive grant funding. The top four plans will receive $40 million in state resources that have been pooled together by nine state agencies and authorities to support applications endorsed by the regional councils.

Our region is competing against the other nine councils for that competitive grant funding.

Plans will be awarded funds based partially on the public and private development projects they endorse; in a sense, the council will be graded on their ability to engage the public and generate interest in bringing business to the region.

Businesses, nonprofits, economic development organizations and research institutions are among the public and private groups eligible for the funding, which they must apply for using a Consolidated Funding Application (CFA).

The council covers an extremely diverse area across Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington counties, which poses a significant challenge for preparing a strategic plan that represents the region as a whole. "Our eight-county area is a pretty diverse area; we are very different groups of people with very different ideas," said council member Gary Dake, president of Stewart's Shops. "Nobody knows what Saratoga or Washington County needs better than the people in that county."

Our region's diversity is reflected on the council itself, which is made up of local leaders from business, academia, labor, agriculture, nonprofits and community-based organizations. Together, they will represent the cross-section of our region to put together a strategy for growth.

"What we have identified within our committee is that diversity within the Capital Region should be our greatest strength, and far too often we let it be a weakness. We have great farming communities, a great high-tech sector and everything in between," Dake said.

Dake, who is involved in the CREDC's Public Engagement Work Group, explained that public involvement is crucial to the success of the Capital Region's plan, both in creating the draft and putting it to work.

If our council is selected as a winner, more money will be available to support private and public projects that endorse the region's vision for economic growth. At this point, the council has outlined its goals for the strategic plan, but has not yet completed a draft. Their deadline for submitting their strategic plan proposal is November 14. Competition results will be revealed in February.

In the meantime, the Capital Region's council will continue to host public forums and reach out to the public through their website: www.capitalregionopenforbusiness.com. You can submit your ideas by taking online surveys.

As of October 14, the council had received 1,215 online responses.

"It is vitally important that we get public participation," Dake said "Nothing is more discouraging to not hear from the community, and at the same time nothing is more frustrating for a community to not be given a voice."

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