Development council eyes new round of state cash

As officials from the Capital Region Economic Council watch the implementation of 88 projects that r

As officials from the Capital Region Economic Council watch the implementation of 88 projects that received state funding last year and create their pitch for a second round of money, they say the region is on a solid path.

Officials from the council hosted a forum Thursday night at Schenectady County Community College, where members of the public and business interests gathered to learn about the region’s progress and to offer their own advice.

Council member Michael Tucker, from the Center for Economic Growth, highlighted the fact that only two of the council’s 88 projects, which received a total of $62.7 million last December, have yet to start. This year, they’re applying for state funding for more than 300 projects, including 45 priority projects and 34 strategic plans.

The council has responded to the first year of the process by consolidating its goals, focused on expanding access to capital, reached out to project applicants and altered its project evaluation program. Tucker added that the state seems to be warming to the idea that funding for the councils can’t come in once-a-year-awards and might need to be spread out.

Richmor Aviation Chief Financial Officer James Valachovic, president of the Glenville Small Business and Professional Association, voiced concerns at the forum that the regional council was too focused on developing interests in Albany County.

“How do we get that attention?” he asked about Schenectady County.

Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority Chairman Ray Gillen was quick to highlight the benefits Schenectady County received from the regional council process and noted that the county received state support outside the council process, as well.

In Glenville, Gillen pointed out, the council effort yielded $284,000 to develop water and sewer lines to an office park. In this second round of projects, he said, businesses are submitting proposals to develop within the park.

Beyond the council process were the state funds that went into the new General Electric battery plant in Schenectady, Gillen said.

“I want to thank the council,” he added, offering appreciation for other government players, as well.

Tucker added that even if plans don’t get state money, the council is working on ways to develop private sources of funding and use available tax credits to further proposed projects.

The Capital Region Economic Council will meet again Tuesday at Hudson Valley Community College and submits an updated report to the state next Friday.

Categories: Business

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