Economic Development Council releases 5-year plan

The new Capital Region Economic Development Council released a five-year plan Monday intended to cre

The new Capital Region Economic Development Council released a five-year plan Monday intended to create jobs and make the eight-county region globally competitive and economically vibrant.

“We will grow our economy, grow jobs,” said Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and council co-chairwoman.

The strategic plan includes 15 projects — at least one project for each county in the region — that would sustain and grow jobs by leveraging $11 in private sector investment for every $1 invested by the state to create jobs, Jackson said.

The 15 local projects have not yet been fully developed and were not outlined in the material released by the council Monday. The specifics are still being developed and fitted into broad initiatives such as “high performance computation” and a Capital Region collaborative agricultural “procurement portal.”

There is nothing concrete, such as a new runway for an airport or a new technology laboratory at a college.

Michael J. Castellana, council co-chairman and president and CEO of SEFCU, said the reason the plan was announced at Albany International Airport is that the 21 council members want the Capital Region to become a clear destination of choice for economic growth.

The council is recommending six “transformative projects and initiatives” that would leverage $487 million in economic growth from an investment of $45 million in state money.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo created Regional Economic Development Councils across the state earlier this year. The councils represent a shift in the state’s approach to economic development from top-down to a local, community-based approach.

The Capital Region council, which is one of 10 councils created by Cuomo, covers Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties.

“Some of the key foci in our region are in the research and advancement of technology that includes nanotechnology, biomedicine, bioengineering and nanomedicine,” says the Capital Region’s strategic plan.

“By capitalizing on the benefits of marshaling our research power in private business, higher education, health care and government, we will create a Capital Region Research Alliance that will make our region a destination for biomedical and nanomedical innovation,” the plan says.

This new research alliance, for example, is expected to leverage a 5 percent increase in National Institutes of Health funding within five years and achieve “a minimum” 25 percent increase in research funding from government entities other than the National Institutes of Health.

Both Jackson and Castellana emphasized the cooperation and collaboration among the business sector, the region’s higher educational institutions, and the government. “We want to create a web of cooperation and collaboration,” Jackson said. “We have people who have committed to make this plan work.”

Castellana said this strategic plan will not sit on a shelf. He said groups of people are committed to “give the plan a pulse.” “There are people behind it,” he said.

The strategic plan is comprehensive and ambitious, touching on everything from improving the environment and agriculture to improving tourism and the region’s cultural climate.

Gary Dake, president of Stewart’s Shops and a council member, said the council has already received approximately 350 applications for funding under the new program.

“This has been a fantastic process,” Dake said. He said he has learned a great deal working with the other council members, who are also business and education leaders.

The Mohawk Regional Economic Development Council, which includes Fulton, Montgomery, Schoharie, Herkimer, Oneida and Ostego counties, also released its final strategic plan and priority projects Monday. It, too, was short on specific details, focusing instead on concepts and broad initiatives.

“The Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council has approved and submitted a comprehensive, transformational plan for the Mohawk Valley that will create jobs and grow our local economy for years to come,” said Larry Gilroy, president of Gilroy, Kernan & Gilroy Inc. and that council’s co-chairman.

Cuomo has made $1 billion available to the 10 regional councils, including $200 million in competitive funding. A strategic plan review committee will analyze and compare each region’s strategic plan.

Based on this review, four regions will be awarded up to $40 million each in capital funding and tax credits to be applied toward the priority capital projects identified in their plans. The remaining money will be divided among the other six regions.

Categories: Business, Schenectady County

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