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Governor Andrew Cuomo announced early in his term that he'd be creating a set of "regional economic councils" to build plans for funding economic development across New York, from the ground up.In the summer of 2011 he finally announced some of the details of the program, to be led by Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy. The ten councils each have dozens of members, and are charged with gathering input from the public and business leaders, and creating a plan by November 14. Those plans will be pitted against each other for a pot of $1 billion in grants, incentives, and tax relief from various state agencies. The winners will get more funding, the losers will get less.But other details - like whether funding will be available past the initial term, and who will serve on the board that decides who wins and who loses - have not been released.The Innovation Trail is looking for your feedback about what your regional economic priorities are, and what you want your community to look like once the councils have completed their task.

GOP lawmaker changes stance on regional councils

Albany has reached an agreement on regional economic councils.
Karen Dewitt
Albany has reached an agreement on regional economic councils.

Remember Governor Cuomo's regional economic councils? They were gone, and then in the final budget they were back.

Now one member of the Republican leadership in the State Senate says he's had a change of heart about the governor's plan for growing jobs.

Speaking in mid-March, Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous (R-Binghamton) said he was "not sold" on the idea of regional economic councils.

"I've gone to companies," Libous said. "I give sales pitches because I believe in my community and probably I can give a better sales pitch than someone in economic development."

In January, Governor Cuomo proposed 10 regional councils for coordinating economic development efforts across the state. After being nixed from the Senate's version of the budget, the councils ultimately made their way back into the final budget - scoring $130 million in funding.

In Binghamton on Friday, Senator Libous said a series of conversations with the governor helped him to change his mind on the councils.

"He said we could make recommendations to the councils, that we would have say in some of the dollar expenditures, where they would go to businesses," Libous explained. "I'd say we're going to do this on a trust basis and see where it takes us."

"I know it's probably going to surprise a lot of people," Libous said. "[But] so far, I would say I trust Governor Cuomo."

The councils will be overseen by Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy.

Former WRVO/Central New York reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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