The ten Regional Economic Development Councils were established by Governor Cuomo in 2011 to develop long-term strategic plans for economic growth for their regions. As part of their mission, each REDC worked with supporting organizations and private sector partners to develop their region’s economic development strategic plan, which includes a plan to address the workforce development needs of the region. The REDCs have redefined the way New York invests in jobs and economic growth through the formation of a community-based, bottom-up approach designed to meet the needs of each region and have established a competitive process for each region to pursue state resources.
Made up of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, local government, non-governmental organizations, and the New York State Senate and Assembly, the REDCs are public-private partnerships supported by various state agencies serving each region. Many state legislators and local elected officials serve on the REDCs, providing critical information to help form regional strategies, identifying investment priorities, and encourage participation in the CFA.
To ensure that each REDC has a good cross section of workforce development advisors, a Workforce Development Committee will be created in those regions where one does not already exist. This committee will be comprised of workforce development experts located in the region in the following fields:
- Economic Development, from a local employer, industry group or Empire State Development (ESD);
- Higher Education;
- Local Workforce Investment Boards and Career Center partners;
- Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES); and
- Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative (ESPRI) representative from the region.
An important component of each REDC strategic plan is a workforce development strategy that addresses local employment and skills gaps and outlines a sector-based approach to addressing the needs of the region. Additionally to support each REDC, an annual regional workforce plan is developed by the Local Workforce Development Boards in the region in consultation with the NYS Department of Labor These plans are intended to identify and leverage assets to address workforce issues, support the region’s strategic plan, and identify and address workforce priorities. These plans will help guide the REDCs and their Workforce Development Committees in the evaluation of project applications for WDI.
Applications for WDI support will go through a two-stage approval process to streamline the allocation of funding, and quickly identify the appropriate funding options.
An interested applicant will submit a general project plan for their proposal to the REDC in their region. The plan will include:
- An overview of the project specifics, to include the workforce problem(s) faced by the region and how this project will address those problems;
- Description and role of the local and regional partners (i.e. employers, educational and community-based organizations);
- Estimated cost of the project, with leveraged funds identified;
- Performance targets and any other information that describes how the project’s performance will be measured; and
- A description of the public-private partnership (if any), to expand the work-based learning experience.
Project plans will be reviewed by REDC Workforce Development Committee to ensure:
- The project is feasible,
- Stakeholders are aligned,
- Funding is identified and available, and
- The project conforms to the workforce plans for the region.
After a thorough review of the plan is complete, the Workforce Development Committee will make their recommendation to the REDC’s executive committee, who will make the final determination to advance the project to Stage Two.
Once advanced to Stage Two, the applicant will be notified by the Office of Workforce Development and provided with a CFA to complete and submit. A review team will be chaired by the new Director of Workforce Development and include, at a minimum, representatives from ESD, NYS Department of Labor, and SUNY. This inter-agency review team will evaluate, score and make final approvals.
Self-identified performance measures will be evaluated as part of the stage two review. Projects will not advance without agreement on measures, which should include details on how the measures are gathered and utilized, project outcomes, financial overview of budget vs. actuals, and any additional information necessary to evaluate the measures.
Selection Criteria and Performance
Successful applicants will have a clearly articulated proposal that addresses a workforce problem faced by the region, and a comprehensive implementation strategy. In addition, applications for funding will be evaluated based on some or all the following criteria:
- The role of local and regional partners;
- Project cost;
- The extent of leveraged funds;
- Performane targets that are measurable and achievable;
- Transferable nature of the training accreditation;
- Description of any public/private partnerships and how they will expand workplace learning.
In recognition of the varied workforce development challenges faced across the state, a range of projects will be eligible for funding under the Workforce Development Initiative. Regional Councils should focus on supporting strategic regional efforts that meet businesses’ near-term workforce needs, long-term industry needs, improve regional talent pipelines, and expand apprenticeships. Focus will be on regionally significant industries in emerging fields with growing demands for jobs, including those in clean energy, life sciences, computer science, and advanced technologies. All projects and activities must be consistent with the region’s workforce development plans.
Examples of potential uses of funds include:
- Workforce attraction specialists;
- Support for company-based projects;
- Formation of multiple employer consortia – especially in a common sector or industry cluster - that can benefit from shared training and other workforce development activities;
- Direct support of companies in industry sectors targeted by the REDC;
- Funds to support workforce development and innovation in college and university settings;
- Creation of opportunities for populations which traditionally face barriers to career advancement, including women and young workers, ex-offenders, veterans, immigrants, refugees, and persons with special needs;
- Projects addressing worker dislocation due to foreign competition;
- Projects addressing the opportunities and challenges posed by automation, artificial intelligence and robotics;
- Fees charged by approved training providers;
- Educational activities that are part of job training and workforce preparation initiatives, particularly when focused on key local economic sectors;
- Research on workforce needs, including employer surveys and market studies;
- Development and operation of programs that award recognized credentials to program graduates (e.g., apprenticeships, certifications, etc.); and
- Curriculum development for career- or job-specific purposes.
Generally excluded uses of funds include:
- Broad-based public infrastructure, as distinguished from infrastructure needed to support an otherwise eligible project;
- Speculative real estate development;
- Buy-outs and roll-ups;
- Establishment or development of retail and personal service businesses;
- Establishment or development of gaming businesses; and
- Support for general education unless it is related to a workforce development initiative.
Proposals Affecting Multiple Regions
Proposals for statewide or multi-region projects will be submitted to the Office of Workforce Development for Stage One review. The Office of Workforce Development will request input from appropriate REDCs, and the Director of Workforce Development will determine proposal eligibility for Stage Two review.