Regional Councils

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. State agencies, authorities and departments are active participants working with 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.

Regional Competition

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?

Round XI includes core capital and tax-credit funding that will be combined with a wide range of existing agency programs totaling approximately $750 million. The core funding includes $225 million in grants and tax credits to fund high value regional priority projects. In order to be responsive to the immediate needs of the development community and as the state is making crucial investments to generate economic activity, the $150 million in grant funds from Empire State Development will be made available to projects on a continuous and competitive basis this round.

What is the award structure for the Regional Councils in 2021?

The Regional Councils will identify and recommend priority projects that will be eligible for up to $150 million in capital funds on a rolling basis, meaning projects will be reviewed throughout the round. An emphasis should be placed on project readiness and alignment with each region’s strategic plan. Additionally, projects within each region will also be eligible for a share of $75 million in Excelsior Tax Credits to help attract and grow business in the region. Projects from all 10 regions submitted through the CFA will be eligible for over $525 million in other state agency funds, which are available on a set timeline. Regional Economic Development Councils will review these projects and provide scores that reflect how well a project aligns with a region’s goals and strategies.

What happens after the eighth 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.

Citizen Participation

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

Where can I find membership and contact information for my Regional Council?

All information about the Regional Councils can be found at

Executive Involvement

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.

Resource Allocation

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.
  • Working with industry to identify and close skills gaps
  • 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.

Continuous Review & Reporting Requirements

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

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.

Regional Planning

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 the 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.