In 2011, Governor Cuomo created 10 Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC). Their job was to develop long-term strategic plans to act as a 5-year road map in guiding each region’s efforts in stimulating economic growth. The Regional Councils are comprised of local experts and stake-holders from academia, business, local government and non-governmental organizations. The Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) was also created by Governor Cuomo to make it easier for businesses and other entities to apply for state funding. The CFA process offers up to $750 million in incentives and grants annually. Governor Cuomo took dozens of programs and condensed them into one easy-to-navigate online application. Now you can access multiple state agencies through one application, making the process of finding funding efficient and painless.
In the upcoming 2016 funding round, the CFA process will remain the primary portal to access state agency resources. In recent years, there have been more than 30 programs available through 11 state agencies. Resources for these programs include; community development, direct assistance to business, waterfront revitalization, energy and environmental improvements, sustainability, workforce development, agriculture economic development and low-cost financing. Any of these resources can change from year to year, while additional resources may be added.
Funding typically occurs once a year. Funds are announced in the spring, applications are due 6-8 weeks later and the decisions are finalized by the State of New York in the fall or after. If your project is going to be funded in the CFA process, remember, it must lead to economic development within New York State and should align with your regions strategic plan. Familiarize yourself with your region’s plans and goals. At this point you’ll need to fill out all necessary paperwork, surveys or pre-applications. It is recommended to attend the Council’s meetings, and if you have the opportunity, discuss your project(s) with members of the Council.
Once the CFA application is made available, you will need to register with an email address. You will then be given a “token” which will serve as your password for the remainder of the application. In the beginning of the application, you will be asked to answer a series of questions to establish what funding your projects are eligible for. IMPORTANT ADVICE: DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO APPLY! You may need to follow up with additional information/ documents.
Once your application has been submitted, continue to build momentum by obtaining letters of support, attending REDC meetings and keeping elected officials informed. The REDC then scores each application and determines how well your project fits within the regional priorities. Each application has the opportunity to score up to 20 points. Applications are then submitted to the appropriate New York State funding agency. The bulk of the decision comes from Albany, as they can award up to 80 points for one project.
Food For Thought
Although the method of finding funding in New York State has been simplified, filling out the CFA and the events leading up to the application can be a not-so-simple process. Each agency administering funding has a limited amount to give out, so you want to make sure your application is filled out properly and accurately. Often, there are several meetings that need to be had; especially if you have multiple projects and need help prioritizing. You might be asked to provide documents or information that may take time for you to get your hands on. Be well versed on your project and have answers to specific questions prepared. “Do you have an engineering report?” “Have you made a budget?” “How many jobs will this project create?”
If your CFA is completed correctly and aligns with the REDC’s priorities, the process could be very rewarding. Once you have received notification that your project will be funded, you can begin moving forward.