December 2, 2011 Transcript of ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams

TOP December 2, 2011 Transcript of ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams

Read the transcript from the web chat with ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams on December 2, 2011.

Kenneth Adams said:
Good morning. I’m Kenneth Adams, President, CEO and Commissioner of ESD. Thank you for joining me and participating in a discussion about Governor Cuomo’s Regional Council initiative and how it is already changing the way we do business in New York State. It’s been an exciting week with all 10 Regional Councils having had the opportunity to present their Strategic Plans to the Review Committee. Let’s get started.

Question from John in Amherst:
I’ve heard the Governor say time and again that we are “One New York.” How are the Regional Councils benefitting our state as a whole if the process pits regions against each other in a competition?

Kenneth Adams said:
Thank you for asking this- it’s a good question. By changing the way the State operates, the Regional Councils provide a central point of contact for businesses, streamline the process and make it overall easier for companies to invest in New York State and create jobs. Fundamentally, Regional Councils are about facilitating a new atmosphere of cooperation, collaboration, and comprehensive planning within each individual region but also across regional boundaries.

Question from Chris in Western New York:
The process to complete each region’s strategic plan was condensed into a very short time frame. Do you think each region had enough time to create a thorough evaluation of their region and its needs?

Kenneth Adams said:
Absolutely, the timeline was aggressive by design. Achievement deadlines were set for the Regional Councils as part of our effort to move toward a more efficient business model for economic development. Just as in the business world, the strict deadlines we implemented were meant to lead to better performance and production to fulfill local needs. We are certainly impressed by the smart, comprehensive plans put forth through the collaborative efforts of those who know their region’s best.

Question from Christin in Western New York:
Each of the Regional Councils’ five-year strategic plans is hinged on specific priority projects. For the regions that are not awarded the $40 million in funding to go forward with their plan, how can we expect them to move forward and implement their plans in the five year time period?

Kenneth Adams said:
In addition to the $200 million in competitive funding, the State has made an additional $800 million in economic development funding available for regional projects through the Consolidated Funding Application process. There will also be ongoing opportunities for the Regional Councils to identify priority projects and apply for future State funding after the first round of allocations are made.

Question from Chaz in Cheektowoga:
I’m a business owner interested in learning more about the state helping to support my new project but I heard the new Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) deadline is already past. That was fast. What is the next chance I’ll have to apply for funding?

Kenneth Adams said:
The CFA is an ongoing process so we encourage all businesses and other entities to keep submitting applications for the next round of funding. Just as before, your application will go to the appropriate Regional Council for evaluation/grading and then to the various state funding agencies. And agency staff will be available throughout the process to help you with your application. Investing in good business doesn’t stop so if you have an idea to create jobs and grow our economy, keep it coming.

Question from George in Ronkonkoma/Suffolk County:
Many of the people on the councils are heavily involved with businesses that have projects in front of the council. How do we know that the people on the councils grading these projects aren’t just going to pick the ones they are invested in?

Kenneth Adams said:
All Council Members and co-chairs submitted a statement of interest and by accepting a position as member submitted to a Code of Conduct outlined in Guidebook which requires the members to recuse themselves from scoring and voting on any projects where there was a potential or actual conflict.

Question from Billy in Cortland:
 We now have 10 strategic plans but we’ve had economic plans in the past.  How will you ensure that these plans are carried out?

Kenneth Adams said:
Governor Cuomo has ensured this process is performance based and has clear metrics outlined to measure progress and success. Each Regional Council will prepare an annual report listing the Council’s activities and the status of funded projects. In addition, we here at ESD will prepare an annual evaluation of effectiveness of the Regional Councils.

Question from MaryClare in Baldwinsville :
This is a great process but with NY facing a $3.5 billion budget deficit, how do we know there will be money for these projects next year?

Kenneth Adams said:
The funding set aside to support Regional Councils was part of the current year’s budget pooled together from existing programs. As part of the performance-based grading standards, projects are expected to leverage private investment for public money, which means the culmination of these projects should generate significant economic activity that will ultimately bring in greater revenue for the state.

Question from Mark in Kirkwood:
Small business is a cornerstone of New York State’s economy. How do we ensure that small projects compete on equal footing with larger ones? I live in small town where a project with 10 new employees is just as valuable to the community, if not more so, than a project with 50 new jobs in New York City.

Kenneth Adams said:
The Regional Council initiative recognizes that each region is different. Strengths, assets and priorities vary from region to region and projects identified by the Councils reflect that. The Regional Councils engaged the public to conduct thorough assessments of their respective region’s priorities and have put forth strategic long term plans and projects that also reflect the communities’ vision for job creation and economic opportunity.

Question from michael in union:
Our Upstate urban cores are tragically falling victim to suburban sprawl. Do the Regional Councils address smart growth and other issues critical to Upstate, such as non-existent population growth?

Kenneth Adams said:
Yes, many of the plans do. As a part of the strategic planning process, the Regional Councils addressed many issues and concerns that are critical to long-term sustainable growth. For example, Western New York has made the implementation of smart growth one of its key strategies for economic prosperity.

Question from Chelsea in New Hartford:
Concerns over the economy have been heightened in the last month after Governor Cuomo’s budget division reported that the state faces a significant budget deficit. How can the state still be handing out money for economic development under situations like this?

Kenneth Adams said:
Economic development is a top priority for Governor Cuomo. The economic downturn has left hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers unemployed, businesses are leaving the state. New York cannot afford to continue to have the worst business climate in the state. It’s time for us to change the way we do business here and the Governor has done that with the implementation of the Regional Councils which will optimize State resources and maximize our potential to create new jobs and sustainable economic growth.

Question from Mary in Mohawk Valley:
No doubt there will be good projects that just didn’t make it in the first round of funding. What will happen to those projects that are left on the table?

Kenneth Adams said:
The Strategic Plans are long-term, five year plans that serve as a roadmap for future regional growth. Projects that are not funded in the first round have the potential to be funded through the Consolidated Funding Application process or additional funding opportunities in the future.

Question from Erick in Utica:
I’ve been closely following my Regional Council’s progress in the news. How can I get involved?

Kenneth Adams said:
While the planning process has been completed and strategic plans submitted, the ESD Regional Offices are more than happy to discuss the Councils’ implementation plan and any public comment components that may be included.

Question from Ralph in Rotterdam:
This is all very exciting news and makes for good news coverage, but our communities are hurting now. When will we actually see some real jobs being created?

Kenneth Adams said:
The Regional Councils were charged with identifying opportunities and projects that are best positioned to create jobs now. The expedited review at the agency level will ensure these opportunities and projects are advanced as quickly as possible to yield returns in the short-term.

Question from andrew in hudson valley:
What happens if a business that gets money for a project doesn’t create the jobs it promised?

Kenneth Adams said:
A main focus of Regional Councils is performance and accountability. The programs from which project funding comes have metric-based criteria for job creation goals. If a project doesn’t meet the standards of the program through which it receives funding, then the project has to give back a proportional amount of the funding. Simply put – the project must produce the jobs it promised or it loses the money.

Question from Sharon in Morrisonville, NY:
I worked PT temp. for ESD up here several years ago. Is ESD involved with helping to get Laurentian Aerospace to open a Plattsburgh plant? The "Press Republican" announced early this year that Laurentian was to have signed by 4/1/11 & would break ground then. People in this area DO NOT NEED false hopes, they needs jobs. Any help you can give would be appreciated. Sharon xxx-xxx-xxxx

Kenneth Adams said:
You’re right… the Laurentian project is very important. Here at ESD we are doing everything we can to help make the project happen. As you know Governor Cuomo set up our new Regional Council system and high tech manufacturing and service companies have been highlighted in the regional plans including the North Country plan.

Question from Pam in Smithtown/Long Island:
As property owners we are all too aware that our property taxes are a big hinderance to exciting people and companies to move here. Do the regional councils include the local school districts and BOCES? If we could shift local districts administration and purchasing to BOCES responsibilites it would go a long way to reducing local property taxes. Have these entites been included?

Kenneth Adams said:
Membership to the Regional Councils includes a group as diverse as the State of New York. Each Council is actually co-chaired by an education leader and higher education institutions play a critical role in the Governor's economic development plans. Furthermore, we have business, academic, labor, agricultural, nonprofit, and local government leaders included on each Council.Local elected officials are also on the Councils, serving as ex-officio members and throughout the entire process, we have taken every possible opportunity to include the public so their vision for economic growth is reflected in the strategic plans.

Question from Jill in Adirondack Park/Northern Warren County:
Dear Kenneth: I live in Northern Warren County in the Adorondack Park. I applaud the efforts of young Gov. Cuomo to put together these 10 Regional Councils, however, I am perplexed that the Adirondack Park was not afforded it's own unique region, as the rules that apply here (by NYS Constitution) do not apply anywhere else in the State. Please explain. Thank you.

Kenneth Adams said:
Good question. The ten regions were chosen because these represent the ten pre-existing regions of the state as distinguished by Empire State Development and Department of Labor. The Governor didn't want to create a new layer of bureaucracy by creating new regions. Each region and every county is well covered by this model. In your area - the North County - Cali Brooks Executive Director, Adirondack Community Trust (ACT) is on the Council, so we know that area is well represented.

Question from David in Long Island:
Will each region have a marketing/advertising budget to promote their specific region?

Kenneth Adams said:
No. Regional Councils are advisory groups and their priorities and recommendations will help guide the allocation of state resources for economic development projects. The Councils will use existing staff and existing resources throughout the process, but there will be NO additional funding budgeted to the Councils for advertising/marketing their region's strategic plans.

Question from Ken in Finger Lakes Region:
Eastman Business Park is tailored to business growth and new jobs! What can you tell us about the efforts the state is doing to help Kodak bring in new business and jobs to fill Eastman Business Park.

Kenneth Adams said:
The Finger Lakes Regional Council showed an interest in this project. In the coming weeks we look forward to working with the council on this and other projects.

Kenneth Adams said:
Thank you for submitting questions and participating in today's chat about New York's dynamic new approach to create jobs and grow our economy. For more information about the Regional Council initiative and to view regional plans and presentations, please visit: Have a great day.