Upstate Economic Development – Part One

(#258) – Governor Cuomo’s initiative to foster more local and regional planning for economic development is beginning to define itself. The basic intent is to locate the planning and prioritizing of economic development projects using NYS funding in the communities and regions where the projects will be implemented.  As such, it represents a major effort to take some of the decision-making out of Albany and give more people and local leadership the opportunity and responsibility for designing and implementing economic development that fits their particular circumstances.

The Governor’s economic directive also has another very clear feature. If towns, villages and counties want significant state funding for projects in 2013, they need to join this regional planning effort in 2012 and commit to sustainable projects.

Commitment to sustainable economic development is given specific definition. Municipalities who adopt the NYS-DEC Climate Smart Communities Pledge and develop specific projects that have regional scope will receive NYS dollars and those who do not, will not receive funding from the $100,000,000 allocated to sustain-ability projects throughout NYS.

The CSCP mentioned above must also be supported by other specific measures, including the completion of a local green house gas emission inventory, the setting of targets for reduction of ghg emissions in line with the NYS goal of 80% reduction of 1990 rates by 2050, and the application for funds to implement economic development projects that meet this target and are superior in generating jobs.  There are additional specifications but the point is there is a new direction to economic development assistance from NYS government.  Some regions and communities will be allocated very substantial funding, others very little or nothing.

A Mid-Hudson Sustainable Planning Consortia has been organized and has already hired a consulting firm to help as many of the 195 towns, villages and counties plan and develop projects. A Regional Sustainability Plan is to be completed by the end of 2012.

Working groups are being formed in the following areas of sustainable planning:

Agriculture, Energy, Transportation and Land Use, Waste Management, Water Management, and Economic Development.  Threads that will run through each of these working groups include Climate Change Adaptation and Governance (who decides). These working groups will meet no less than once a month in face to face sessions as well as engage in robust electronic communication. At least 4 public education sessions are planned for the 8 month term of Plan development.

Sullivan County will co-chair the energy working group and be a member of the waste management and agriculture working groups as well as have a vote on all decision-making.

The Sullivan County Office of Sustainable Energy is already working in towns and at the county level to develop ghg inventories and help design sustainable economic projects that save money, create jobs, and lower ghg emissions.  Call the OSE at 807-0578 to learn more about local and regional sustainable economic planning and development.

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