Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Cuomo's new regional economic development councils: potential source of new state subsidies for Atlantic Yards?

Where will Forest City Ratner look for additional subsidies to meet Atlantic Yards profit goals, to get that first tower built (after additional city subsidies were denied), to finish the Carlton Avenue Bridge (after Carl Kruger came up empty), finish a new railyard (if EB-5 immigrant investor funds aren't enough), and to do much more?

They have to be considering the New York City Regional Economic Development Council, one of ten regional economic development councils established this past summer, as noted in a 7/20/11 press release headlined Governor Cuomo Announces $1 Billion in Economic Development Funding Will be Available Through New Consolidated Application Process:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced historic changes to the state's economic development grant application process, continuing the Governor's efforts to redesign the way state government works in order to drive economic growth and create jobs.

Under the new process, the ten Regional Councils will be able to apply for state funding to support projects they determine to be part of their regional strategy using a new Consolidated Funding Application (CFA), making the projects eligible for grant money and tax credits from dozens of existing programs. The combined pool of funding accessible through the CFA totals up to $1 billion.

...The Governor released a guidebook that details a fundamental shift in the state's approach to economic development. The Regional Councils will change a top-down development model to a community-based approach that emphasizes regions' unique assets, harnesses local expertise, and empowers each region to set plans and priorities.
The New York council

The New York City Regional Economic Development Council is meeting at 8:30 am today at York College in Queens.

At 1 pm, it will hold a Consolidated Funding Application Workshop, instructing applicants one how "to access multiple funding sources from dozens of existing programs through one comprehensive application, making it quicker and easier to receive funding." Several such workshops are being held around the state this week.

The Council includes representatives from business, labor, and academia, including Steve Spinola, President, Real Estate Board of New York; Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO, Partnership for New York City; and Carl Hum, President & CEO, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. However able they are, I don't think they're known for an emphasis on grassroots development.

Or is it simply that anything not top-down qualifies as a "community-based approach"?

What projects are eligible?

From the FAQ:
What kind of projects might the Councils identify and prioritize?
The Regional Council program recognizes that no two regions are identical – and that no one knows their regions better than the people who live there. Strengths, assets and priorities vary from region to region, and the projects identified by each region will vary accordingly. Each Regional Council will conduct a community-based strategic planning process to identify regionally significant projects that are ready for investment and capable of stimulating economic growth and community development.
The Vision Statement for the New York Council states:
To retain its status as a global economic powerhouse and to maximize its contributions to New York State, New York City seeks to reinforce its historic strengths, generate improvements in the quality of life for its residents through the creation of good jobs, and better leverage its academic and corporate assets in the technology-driven growth sectors of the 21st-century economy. This will require significant public and private investment focused on:
• Modernization of aging infrastructure (transportation, energy, and the built environment, both commercial and residential) and recapture of lost assets such as the 578 miles of city waterfront and thousands of acres of contaminated brownfield sites.
• Reduction of barriers to business development and expanded support for entrepreneurs, both immigrant and native born, who are the major generators of new jobs and of innovation.
• Enhanced development of human capital to achieve a more diverse, highly qualified, fairly compensated and inclusive workforce.
Would Atlantic Yards fit?

I wouldn't say that Atlantic Yards has anything to do with support for entrepreneurs or human capital.

But I bet someone would make the argument that it represents modernization of infrastructure--even though the Metropolitan Transportation Authority never asked for a new railyard before Forest City Ratner proposed to move it. Nor did the city ask for a new Carlton Avenue Bridge before Forest City announced plans to demolish and rebuild it.

Reading between the lines, there's at least rhetorical support for projects in development. The  9/13/11 agenda and summary for the New York Council states:
VII. Identifying Catalytic, Transformative Projects
Steve Hindy reported for the first group. The group focused on identifying certain sectors and encouraging entrepreneurship in those areas, through a Brooklyn Navy Yard concept, much like an incubator. It can be difficult to find space, financing, and a welcoming environment to start a business in the city. There is a long list of businesses waiting to get into the Navy Yard, and that concept should be implemented in other boroughs. The group talked about incentives to green development in transportation and other areas and viewed brownfields as a prime location for Navy Yard-type development. The group suggested rebates for energy efficiency, tax credits for businesses hiring the long-term unemployed, and a focus on food, media, entertainment, and the tech sector through the incubator concept.

Sheena Wright reported for the second group, which concluded that the council has a lot of work to do and must order its steps. It must be clear about the criteria for funding sources (i.e., tax credits or capital). In addition to coming up with catalytic investments, the council should identify projects already in development and determine gaps that could be filled in those projects. The group identified specific industries—including food, waterfront, technology, transportation, health-care delivery systems, entertainment, and incentives around green zones—as well as projects, including Hunts Point, the Metro North expansion, the Gowanus Expressway development, and the Kingsbridge Armory. The group’s overarching theme was to create the maximum number of high-quality jobs in every project, and to ensure that there are workforce development opportunities and initiatives for the long-term unemployed.

Chancellor Goldstein underscored the importance of considering projects already in development, which may need a final push.
(Emphases added)

Those examples don't exactly indicate Atlantic Yards, but it's a project "already in development," so never say never.

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