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We want plans that work...We want plans that actually produce jobs and keep people here.

Cuomo: Regional Economic Development Councils will be awarded on merit

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Governor Cuomo was at SUNY Potsdam Thursday afternoon, announcing the launch of the North Country's "Regional Economic Development Council".

He's been traveling the state all week with similar announcements; The councils are intended to help boost New York's regional economies by setting up competition for pieces of a $200 million job-creation grant.

Karen DeWitt was at the announcement earlier today in Schenectady, and she filed this report:

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Karen DeWitt
NYS Capitol Correspondent

Speaking in Schenectady to an enthusiastic invitation-only crowd, Cuomo said the second phase of his term as governor will be all about creating jobs, by giving regions more autonomy to create economic development plans.

“You shape your destiny,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo told his new regional council appointees that the plans they ultimately come up with will have to be “sustainable and comprehensive” in order to attract part of the $200 million dollars allotted for the program. Afterward, he said the regional councils will have to work to earn the grants.

“We want plans that work; this is taxpayers money,” said Cuomo. “We want plans that actually produce jobs and keep people here."

Cuomo said “saying we’re going to give money to every plan” is the “old way”, which the governor says has had a poor track record .

Cuomo says competition among the regions of the state is healthy, and he says it’s something the federal government has been doing for two decades. He says he awarded competitive grants as Housing and Urban Development Secretary in the 1990’s.

Cuomo said he knows he’s asking a lot of the business leaders, university presidents, and others he’s appointed to the boards to put parochial reasons aside and come up with plans, and he concedes that some regions of the state might not get any money at all, saying it would be a “waste” to fund plans that won’t produce results.

“Do I believe there can be plans that lose?” Cuomo said, answering a reporter’s question. “Sure. But by the way, that’s the way it should be.”

He says regions that may not win enough money in the first year may have another chance next year, if he can convince the legislature to continue to fund the economic development councils.  

The councils have three months to come up with plans, the money will be awarded early next year.

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