Regional councils start to review applications for state money
Since launching in late July, the Western New York Regional Economic Council has been drawing up a comprehensive plan for revitalizing the local economy. Down to its final two weeks to revise its draft, the council is striving to separate itself from nine others it will compete with from around the state.
But while the council is bumping up against its deadline, the deadline for businesses seeking state money from the councils has passed. Monday was the last day for businesses to submit Consolidated Funding Applications.
Now council members must review the hundreds of submissions – but won’t have long to do so.
The WNY council alone now has thousands of pages of applications to analyze before choosing just a few to include with its five-year economic plan for the region.
And time is short, says council co-chair Howard Zemsky.
“Real analysis of them will begin imminently and be wrapped up by November 14th,” he says.
That’s when final plan is due – and it needs to be crafted carefully, as it will compete with nine other cash-hungry councils from around the state.
“We started with a blank sheet of paper and we’re into draft 3.0,” Zemsky says. “So we’ve got some more work to do. Of course we knew we would. But we’ve got great raw material. We’re in the red zone and we’ve got a week’s worth of work to get it across the goal line.”
Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy was in Buffalo for the meeting. He stressed the council’s ethics policy strongly Tuesday, which asks members to recuse themselves from official business that could involve conflicts of interest.
“We want to make sure we are fair and equitable but there is no insider trading, so to speak, where someone is getting an advantage with undue influence,” Duffy says.
Western New York’s council will meet again in a week to finalize its five-year plan and craft a discussion about which projects gleaned from the CFA process will be most beneficial to the region’s economic future.
“[I’m] really excited to be into November here, so it’s kind of the final push, as it will be with every [regional] council across the state,” Zemsky says. “We’re looking forward to getting across the finish line successfully.”