Frequently Asked Questions
General Frequently Asked Questions
How were regional boundaries drawn?
Regional boundaries are based on existing Empire State Development and Department of Labor regional boundaries. This will allow the Councils to maximize efficiency and capitalize on existing programs, synergies and relationships.
Is there bipartisan representation on the Council?
Members are selected based on their leadership role in the region, not their political affiliation.
What role does higher education play in the Regional Councils?
Public and private higher education institutions are essential components of the State’s economic engine, serving as centers of innovation and research, teaching the business leaders of tomorrow, anchoring our communities, and creating jobs. One Co-Chair from each Regional Council is a member of academia. In addition, each Regional Council includes members affiliated with higher education institutions located within that region and meetings are held at institutions of higher education.
What staff support from State agencies is available to the Regional Councils?
Empire State Development (ESD) serves as the lead agency managing the Regional Councils. ESD Regional Directors act as the executive directors of each Regional Council, and regional ESD offices provide administrative and research support. The Department of State Strategic Planners are leading interagency teams which are helping the Regional Councils implement their strategic economic development plans. Other State agencies, authorities and departments are active participants on the Councils and provide necessary resources. In addition, academic institutions, think tanks and other independent organizations are invited by the Regional Councils, as appropriate, to contribute to the development of the Strategic Plans.
How do Regional Council members avoid conflicts of interest?
To ensure transparency and accountability, a Code of Conduct was established to ensure there are no real or perceived conflicts of interest that would interfere with any member acting in the best interest of all New Yorkers. In addition, members are required to recuse themselves from deliberations regarding any project or matter which poses an actual or potential conflict.
Are members compensated for their time or do they receive any extra benefits?
No, members serve at will and pro bono to ensure all members are working only in the best interest of their regions.
Can additional members be added to the Council?
As vacancies arise in the Regional Councils, recommendations are made by the Regional Councils and given to the Governor’s office for approval.
Work groups played an active role in the development of new strategies and the implementation of the Strategic Plans, and provide opportunities for substantive involvement in the Councils by other stakeholders in the region.
How much do Regional Councils cost taxpayers?
Regional Councils are supported by existing resources and personnel that are currently dedicated to economic development efforts. By marshaling the State’s existing resources, the Regional Councils actually maximize taxpayer money by streamlining and coordinating the economic development and planning process, cutting waste, and reducing duplication.
Will the Regional Councils receive assistance in updating their Strategic Plans?
State agency staff is assigned and available to assist the Regional Councils. State agencies join the Regional Councils in their work to grow New York’s economy by undertaking four primary tasks:
- Align State programs with Regional Council priorities
- Eliminate impediments to economic growth
- Provide technical assistance
- Share information to replicate success
What type of funding is available to help Regional Councils implement their strategic plans?
To continue to motivate investment opportunities and job creation in 2016, the REDCs will compete for up to $175 million in capital funds and $70 million in Excelsior Tax Credits for projects and activities identified by the Councils as priorities in their regions.
Regional Councils competing in the sixth round of the REDC Initiative will be assessed in the following categories based on information provided in their Progress Reports and their presentations to the State Implementation Assessment Team.
- Progress, including the advancement of the region’s 2015-16 Implementation Agenda and past priority projects
- Performance, as demonstrated by the impact on job creation, business growth, and other economic activity within the region
- Planning, including the quality of the progress report and identification of regional workforce development needs for key sectors
- Projects, including those identified to advance State and regional priorities to promote economic growth
- Participation, as evidenced by the engagement of local government, the public, and stakeholders in the REDC process
What is the award structure for the Regional Councils in 2016?
- All ten regions will be competing this year for designation as a Top Performer.
- Five Top Performers will receive awards of up to $25 million in ESD Capital Grants.
- The Remaining Five Regions identified as Regional Awardees will receive up to $10 million in ESD Capital Grants.
What happens after the sixth round of allocations are made – will there be further contests for funding or will allocations be based on the Strategic Plan and project priorities?
There will be ongoing opportunities for the Regional Councils to identify priority projects and apply for future State funding on an expedited basis.
How do the Councils maintain transparency? Are meetings open to the public?
To ensure a transparent process, Regional Councils host public sessions. Regional Councils are also encouraged to design innovative ways for stakeholders and the public to actively participate in the planning process. Meeting dates and locations are available online. In addition, Strategic Plans and progress reports are posted on www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov.
Where can I find membership and contact information for my Regional Council?
All information about the Regional Councils can be found at www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov.
What is Governor Cuomo’s role in the Regional Councils?
Economic development is a top priority of Governor Cuomo’s administration, and the Regional Councils are the cornerstone of his economic development agenda. Governor Cuomo and the Lieutenant Governor guide the Regional Council program to achieve economic growth, create jobs, and reinforce the message that New York Works For Business.
What is the Lieutenant Governor’s role in the Regional Councils?
Economic development efforts are more likely to succeed when championed by a prominent leader. The Lieutenant Governor chairs each Regional Council and addresses issues that affect all of the regions.
Do the Regional Councils directly disburse funds?
No. The Regional Council plays an advisory role by undertaking the following primary activities this year:
- Supporting the Downtown Revitalization Plan and beginning to identify projects to implement it.
- Implementing strategies through the project pipeline.
- Training the workforce for today and tomorrow.
- Measuring the performance and progress of the strategic plan and CFA projects.
Who decides how resources are allocated?
For the competitive funding, State agencies will continue to exercise discretion and make all final decisions, through a review committee, about how resources are allocated.
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 conducts a community-based process to identify regionally significant priority projects that align with the Region’s strategic plan.
How are priority projects that could be funded through ESD Capital grants identified?
While variety of ways are used to identify priority projects, in 2016 all applicants are asked to fill out and submit the priority project worksheets available on their Regional Council’s website. Regional Councils will review those worksheets as part of their endorsement process.
How is the progress and success of Regional Councils measured and reported?
Each Regional Council annually reports on progress made implementing its strategic plan. The report describes the significant accomplishments the Regional Council has made advancing its strategies through the actions it has taken.
By examining and reporting on progress on the Implementation Agenda, a Regional Council is able to determine whether its plan is having the desired effect, and whether it needs to modify its strategies to better achieve its vision. Past reports can be found at http://www.nyscfaprojectdata.ny.gov/.
How is the State measuring the overall success of the regional approach?
Governor Cuomo is focused on performance and results. To ensure that the Councils are successful in spurring economic growth, performance measurement is a key component of the Regional Councils program. Important measures of success are jobs created, amount of new investment, and other economic indicators. Statewide, the success of the regional approach is measured by improvement in the business climate and overall economy.
Are the Regional Councils another layer of government? Don’t they make it more difficult to conduct business in New York State?
To the contrary, Regional Councils make it easier to conduct business in New York State by serving as a single point of contact to help businesses navigate State government regulations and resources. Regional Councils also work with businesses and State agencies to identify and mitigate regulatory burdens that impede economic growth.
How is the regional approach better than the past approach?
The Regional Council approach is a fundamental departure from New York’s traditional economic development approach, which was been top-down and State-directed. The Governor’s vision for the State is to rely on regional expertise to identify and prioritize significant projects that would maximize the State’s return on investment.
This sounds like it will take a long time to bear fruit. We need jobs now. How will the Regional Councils help in the short-term?
By empowering those who know their regions best, the Regional Councils identify opportunities and projects that are best positioned to create jobs now. The expedited review at the state level ensures these opportunities and projects are advanced as quickly as possible to yield returns in the short-term, while laying groundwork for growth in the long-term. The Regional Co-Chairs of each Regional Council provide information and feedback from the regions directly to the leaders of State agencies – problems and opportunities are identified and can be acted upon quickly because of greater communication channels and the State’s commitment to addressing regional needs.
What is the NYS Consolidated Funding Application (CFA)?
As part of the Governor’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative, the CFA is a modern and easy-to-use online application for accessing state resources currently available from multiple New York State agencies and authorities. The CFA allows applicants to access multiple State funding sources through one application. Application materials can be accessed through www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov.
Why should a grant applicant apply for funding through the CFA process?
The CFA is a more efficient and effective process for applicants to access economic and community development funding. Prior to 2011, applicants had to navigate multiple agencies and applications without any mechanism for coordination. Under this process, the CFA serves as the single entry point for access to economic and community development funding. A CFA can be submitted for single or multiple sources of funding through one application, making it quicker and easier for economic development projects to receive funding.
Who submits a CFA?
An applicant can submit the CFA via a secure, web-based application for the following projects:
- Direct Assistance to Businesses and Other Organizations
- Community Development
- Waterfront Revitalization
- Environmental Improvements
- Sustainability Planning and Implementation
- Education/Workforce Development
- Low-Cost Financing
Which agencies offer funding through the CFA?
Eleven State agencies have made funding available through the CFA process, including: Empire State Development; NYS Canal Corporation; NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA); Environmental Facilities Corporation; Homes and Community Renewal; New York Power Authority; Department of Labor; Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; Department of State; Department of Environmental Conservation; and the NYS Council on the Arts.
What resources are available through the CFA?
Over $750 million in State resources will be accessible through the CFA to support the implementation of the priorities identified in each of the Regional Councils’ strategic plans.
Approximate resources currently available through the Consolidated Funding Application process include:
Direct Assistance to Businesses and Other Organizations: Up to $262 million
- Empire State Development
- Up to $175 million for ESD Grant Funds
- Up to $70 million for Excelsior Jobs Program
- Up to $2.5 million for NYS Business Incubator Program
- Up to $1 million for ESD Grants for Strategic Planning and Feasibility Studies
- Up to $13.5 million for Market New York
Community Development: Up to $55 million
- NYS Council on the Arts
- up to $5 million for Arts, Culture, and Heritage Projects
- Homes and Community Renewal
- Up to $25 million for New York State Community Development Block Grant Program
- Up to $5 million for New York Main Street Program
- Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
- Up to $20 million for Environmental Protection Fund Grants
Waterfront Revitalization: Up to $20.5 million
- Department of State
- Up to $19.5 million for the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program
- New York State Canal Corporation
- Up to $1 million for the Canalway Grants Program
Energy: Up to $60 million
- New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
- Up to $60 million for Energy Efficiency Programs
- New York State Power Authority
- Up to 150MW for the ReCharge NY Program
Environmental Improvements: Up to $38 million
- Department of Environmental Conservation
- Up to $2 million for NYS DEC/EFC Wastewater Infrastructure Engineering Planning Grant
- Up to $26 million for the Water Quality Improvement Projects (WQIP) Program
- Environmental Facilities Corporation
- Up to $10 million for the Green Innovation Grant Program
Sustainability Planning and Implementation: Up to $15 million
- Department of Environmental Conservation
- Up to $11 million for the Climate Smart Communities Program
- Department of State
- Up to $4 million for Local Government Efficiency Grants
Education/Workforce Development: Up to $5 million
- Department of Labor
- Up to $5 million for Workforce Development
Low Cost Financing: Up to $300 million
- Empire State Development
- Up to $300 million for Industrial Development Bond (IDB) Cap
- Empire State Development
Where can an applicant find guidance on applying for specific funding programs?
On the CFA home page, several documents are posted, detailing how to use the CFA and outlining the available CFA resources. These documents provide applicants with information about the application as well as programmatic detail for each resource that is a part of the CFA process. There are also recorded webinars on the CFA website describing the programs and their eligibility requirements.
What is a “token”?
A token is what applicants use as their password for the CFA system.
How do I get a token?
After clicking “Register New Application” at https://apps.cio.ny.gov/apps/cfa/register.cfm, you will be asked for your email address, organization name and project alias name. After filling in this required information and answering the security question (ex. 3+5= ) your token will be displayed on the screen. Print or note your token somewhere safe as you will need it to sign in and access your project later.
I have registered and have a token, now what? How do I activate my account?
After you register, you will receive an email from email@example.com. It will contain your application number and a link to activate your account. You should save a copy of this email and keep it with your sign in information. When you click on the activation link, in your email, a registration confirmation will open up in your browser. To enter your application, click on the login button and enter your email address and token number.
Is the CFA system any different this round?
Yes. Many changes have been made to make navigating through the process of filling out an application easier.
I submitted an application last round. Can I still access that application
Yes. You can access your application from previous rounds by logging in using the token assigned to you during that round. If you have lost or forgotten your token, you can retrieve it by calling the Customer Care Center at 518-474-4487. Please note that you can only view and/or print your old application. You must fill out a new application to be eligible for the current round.
Can I register more than one project on the same profile and token?
Yes. You have the option to create a new application that will be associated to an already registered profile. The e-mail address and token you use to log in will remain the same and you will have the option to start a new application or you can start a new profile by registering a new e-mail address.
How are you encouraging participation by likely applicants?
To maximize participation in the process and ensure high-quality applications, public workshops will be held to explain the programs and eligibility standards, as well as improvements to the application process.
How is a project submitted to the Regional Council for consideration and review?
Any project may be submitted for consideration through the CFA (by clicking the Consolidated Funding Application tab at: www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov). The project will be submitted to the appropriate work group for review and recommendation by the full Council. The Application will be forwarded to the appropriate agency for technical review and scoring.
If applicants have additional questions about the CFA or would like to request assistance with the application who do they contact?
These applicants should reach out directly to their Regional Council through the appropriate email address below. A staff person from the Regional Council can help an applicant apply. For additional questions related to the application, the applicant should reach out through the same email address.
Capital Region: CFARegion1@ny.gov
Central New York: CFARegion2@ny.gov
Finger Lakes: CFARegion3@ny.gov
Long Island: CFARegion4@ny.gov
Mohawk Valley: CFARegion6@ny.gov
New York City: CFARegion7@ny.gov
North Country: CFARegion8@ny.gov
Southern Tier: CFARegion9@ny.gov
Western New York: CFARegion10@ny.gov
What if a project is eligible for funding that is not accessible through the CFA process? How do Regional Councils support applicants in obtaining these resources?
Regional Councils are about making State government work better for businesses to create an environment that will put New Yorkers back to work. Each Council is staffed by representatives from a broad spectrum of State agencies who will help identify priority projects and potential funding sources within their agencies and then directly assist applicants throughout every step of the process.
If a project is not eligible for funding through the CFA process, contact your Regional Office through the email address listed in the previous question. State agency staff will work with the Regional Council to identify potential funding sources and/or assistance when a non-eligible project is deemed a priority.
What is the CFA timeline and how does it relate to the work of the Regional Councils?
The CFA solicitation will be open for 89 days – from May 2 until the application due date of 4:00PM July 29. Final attachments related to program specific requirements should be uploaded on the system; where hardcopies are specifically required by a funding agency. Scoring by the appropriate Regional Councils and agencies is expected to be finalized by October 3.
What happens to the application once it is submitted?
Once the CFA is submitted by the applicant, it is reviewed and ranked by the appropriate Regional Council(s) in relation to how it will assist in implementing the strategic plan. The agencies that administer the program will exercise due diligence to determine relevant legal issues and potential disqualifying concerns, and assign a technical score to the CFA.
How will the agencies score the CFAs?
The agencies fill out their own score sheets and assign points to eligible projects using criteria contained in the Available CFA Resources document. The score sheet incorporates the individual program’s technical scoring requirements based on the program requirements. The agency’s technical score, worth up to 80% of the total score, will be combined with the Regional Council scoring of up to 20% of the total score.
How will the Regional Councils’ endorsement standards relate to regional strategic plans?
Each Regional Council will assign a score for CFA projects based on the degree to which the application implements the regional strategic plan, as follows:
Statewide Endorsement Standards IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PLAN DEGREE POINTS The proposal is identified as a priority project by the Regional Council. Priority 20 The proposal is identified in the plan and has regional benefits. Very Strong 15 The proposal advances the plan and has local benefits. Strong 10 The proposal is consistent with the plan and has project level benefits. Moderate 5 The proposal has limited relationship to the plan. Weak 0
What happens when a project crosses two or more Regional Economic Development Councils?
Each Council will score the application.
Can applicants reapply for funding of projects that were not successful applications in previous rounds?
Applicants can reapply for funding for projects not funded in the past if the program is still available. Applicants are encouraged to consult their Regional Council strategic plan to enhance project proposals to best implement the Regional Council strategic plan.
Do you need a new CFA number if you applied last year?
Yes, you need to reapply through the CFA and obtain a new CFA number and token.
If you’re a consultant representing an applicant, which party is awarded the funding?
The contract will be with the applicant, not the consultant.
Can you save your application and come back to it?
Yes, the application automatically saves as you complete it and allows you to log in and out as long as you have your login email and token.
What funding resources are available through the CFA?
There are over 30 funding programs that can be accessed through the CFA. Available resources can be found online www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov.
Where can I find copies of the presentations given at the CFA Workshops?
All workshop materials are online www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov.
Projects are often long term with many phases. Can the application be made now if the project begins next year?
Yes, projects can be submitted during any phase, however please note that project readiness is a key component of evaluations by the Regional Councils and applicable agencies.
If a project is in process and about to begin another phase, can you apply?
Yes, projects can apply for future expenditures.
Will a project that has merit, but does not create jobs, be considered?
Although job creation is a very important criterion, it is not the only one. Other factors, such as the project’s benefits to the community and how it advances the Strategic Plan, are taken into consideration when scoring applications. Projects that do not directly create jobs are still eligible to apply.
Please clarify the MWBE requirements, what if you cannot find contractors that fit the guidelines?
Regional Council award winners will have language in their contracts that outlines specific commitments to achieving goals for MWBE participation. The awardee commits to these guidelines when they execute the contract. For a list of the registered MWBEs, please visit the following link http://esd.ny.gov/MWBE.html.
What proves good faith effort regarding MWBE participation in sub-contracting?
Specific agency requirements will be included in contracts with projects that are awarded CFA resources.
Is there funding available outside of the CFA?
The CFA is the primary portal for economic development resources. However, there is other funding that is not included in the CFA from a variety of programs and state agencies.
Will there be opportunity for formal presentations to the councils?
Yes, there are numerous opportunities to address the Regional Council in your area. In addition to the public meetings that the general public may participate in, each Council holds public forums throughout their region to both inform and listen to what people have to say. Contact the ESD Regional office in your area for more information. This contact information can be found at http://esd.ny.gov/RegionalOverviews.html by clicking your region on the map.
Can you apply for two different projects?
Yes. Each project will need to be registered and applied for separately. That is, each project will need to have its own CFA and application number.
If a project will be multi-regional, how is this indicated on the application? How will this type of project be scored by the applicable Regional Councils?
There is a section in the CFA that prompts the applicant to select the region in which the project is located. If the project affects multiple regions, select all that apply. The project will be evaluated by each Regional Council in which the project falls.
Is it important to have matching funds?
This is dependent on the agency and funding program through which funds are requested from. Projects that leverage funding from other sources will be viewed favorably.
Is it possible to have a statewide region for a project?
Yes, there can be statewide projects in the CFA. When completing the application, you will need to select all regions.
So, applications and attachments need to be finalized by 4pm on July 29th?
Yes, all application materials must be uploaded to the system by 4pm on July 29th.
Are there different due dates depending on which funding you are requesting?
No, all applications are due by 4pm on July 29th. However, some programs in the CFA have a rolling deadline, meaning they will continue to accept applications post-July 29th and until all funds have been awarded. For more information, please see the Available Resources document available www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov.
Is there any way to see who was awarded these grants in previous rounds and how much they received?
All awards from previous rounds are posted on the Regional Council webpage.
Do all agencies have staff to answer questions?
Every agency’s program presentation has contact information included. These presentations can also be found on the CFA Workshops webpage. Additionally, there is contact information for CFA program questions in the application itself. Click the “Help” tab for more information.
Does the CFA on-line application process require an applicant to answer the same questions twice if applying for funding with multiple agencies?
An advantage of the Consolidated Funding Application is to combine applications from multiple state agencies in one location to avoid duplication as much as possible. Given the complexity of the funding available, there may be some similarities between program questions if the project is eligible for multiple funding streams.
Will there be a size limit for uploaded documents to the CFA process?
Yes. The files must be in PDF, JPG or ZIP format and cannot be larger than 10 MB in size. You may combine multiple PDF files into a single .ZIP file if necessary. Avoid using special characters like *,%,#,:,; in your document name as this will cause errors in the upload. If an attachment question requires more than one document, you must create a single PDF or JPG file that contains all the required documents or a ZIP file that contains the required documents in PDF or JPG format.
How do you do the budget for multiple programs?
You will have separate budget lines for each program requiring budget information.
I am aware that the CFA will guide you to eligible programs, but is it advisable to reach out to the specific agencies as well?
The CFA and other online resources are very user friendly, but applicants are encouraged to make contact with agency staff when necessary.
I am a not-for-profit organization. Do I need to pre-qualify with Grants Gateway in order to submit an application in the CFA?
Yes, if the program you are applying to requires it. More information on the Grants Gateway can be found at http://www.grantsreform.ny.gov/.
Continuous Review & Reporting Requirements
NYS Consolidated Funding Application (CFA)
General Application Questions
Grants Gateway Pre-Qualification
For program questions, visit the Consolidated Funding Application:https://apps.cio.ny.gov/apps/cfa/help.cfm?section=programquestions