Capital Region gets parting gift in state's economic development award competition

andrew cuomo redc awards 2015

We're really hoping that next Andrew Cuomo will have the regional representatives come up on stage and spin a wheel or something.

update: Here's the list of projects that were awarded REDC money, both in the Capital Region and other regions.. The Capital Region's money will go to a variety of projects including infrastructure, Capital Rep's renovation, the Good Market public market in the Warehouse District, expansion plans at Nine Pin Cider Works, the Tower on the Hudson project, and a music television show to be produced at Proctors.

The list of Capital Region projects from the REDC booklet is embedded after the jump.
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The Capital Region left this year's state economic development grant game show with $98.1 million.

Sure, that's a large chunk of money. But the big money this year was in snagging one of the $500 million Upstate Revitalization Initiative awards, a Cuomo admin program inspired in part by the "Bufallo Billion."* The three winning regions for the URI prizes were the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, and Central New York.

That the Capital Region didn't win one of the URI awards isn't really surprising, It's doing relatively well compared to the rest of the upstate, and it's already benefited from state money for projects like SUNY Poly and GlobalFoundaries. But the Capital Region's economic development council paid the famous consulting firm McKinsey $2 million to help it formulate its plan for the competition, a sign that it thought it had a real shot. (So... refund?) [Biz Review]

Here's a scan of the plan the Capital Region submitted. Officials have said that even if the region didn't win, the plan would still be useful as a map for future economic development.

And here's a scan of the "priority projects" as part of the Capital Region's regular REDC app. Which projects got money -- and how much -- will be out later today.

Here's the list of what each region was awarded...

Western New York: $83.9 million

Finger Lakes: $500 million - URI

Southern Tier: $500 million - URI

Central New York: $500 million - URI

Mohawk Valley: $100.3 million - REDC top performer

North Country: $85.1 million

Capital Region: $98.1 million - REDC top performer

Mid-Hudson: $90.4 million

New York City: $84.1 million
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* Though as Andrew Cuomo pointed our during the presentation today, only about half of that billion has been spent so far. And these new $500 million awards are for $100 million a year for five years. He framed the Buffalo Billion as being about signaling that things were different, and changing the way people thought about the region.

Capital Region REDC project grants 2015

REDC Awards Booklet 2015 Capital Region

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screengrab from Cuomo admin livestream

Comments

Im sad and angry. But I cant really be angry at the winners they are struggling.

I'm actually sortof glad - our region's plan wasn't very good, didn't harvest the best of what's going on in the region (particularly relating to poverty), and generally seemed vague "more of the same". $500 million towards a plan that scuttles the exciting things happening is a hollow gift.

From the start, I thought this was a poor way to allocated precious funding to help regional economies sustain solid economic development programs or foster innovative solutions to drive jobs, specifically in our urban cores. I was cautiously optimistic that after a few years, this program would mature and standardized metrics and measures would fall into place, however, four years later, as the Citizen Budget Council notes in their temporal analysis of the past 3 years of this prized jewel of Gov. Cuomo: “Decentralization of performance measurement has resulted in fragmented, changing, and non-standardized metrics—making it difficult to compare regions over time.”

Additionally, this process, at least in the Capital Region leans to heavily on insiders and not on what citizens recommend, or as one commenter correctly cited, a lack of willingness to seize the existing energy in a lot of good projects. Instead, key players walk away with their projects funded (looking at you Jack Barara at AMC) and the state has leached some of the money for its own gain (why oh why is our funding helping to subsidize the NYS Data Center over at SUNY, a state asset, for a state government that continues to strangle the city of Albany’s tax base; it’s a joke to make the link that it also benefits local jurisdictions).

Despite this, I thought our plan was pretty good, when compared to the many others I scanned. I think what did us in, despite popular convention that many think Albany was handicapped by the perception that we are doing just fine and have already been well served by state government, is the fact that on many key metrics, we perform poorly: we have the highest rate of cancelled projects; we have the worst use of standardized metrics and inconsistently report on them from year to year; and we have limited data on actual job growth. While the process is flawed and I’m angry that the region got shafted, what little semblance that exists of functioning procedures within the process (i.e. annual reporting, job data metrics, etc.) we have failed to adhere to, and I’m sure the powers that be noticed. Here’s the report from the CBC, for those who dare: http://www.cbcny.org/sites/default/files/REPORT_REDC_11302015.pdf

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