Each year the State of New York offers a variety of funding resources through the annual Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) process. This process allows projects, from arts and tourism to business development and energy efficiency, to apply for multiple grants and tax credits through a single online application called the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA). Over the past eight years, Central New York has won more than $1 billion in state funding, with over $50m of that coming to Cayuga County, making our region the recipient of the most investment through the regional council and Upstate Revitalization Initiative. This year, Round 9 of the REDC awards will distribute more than $750 million in state funding resources, including up to $225 million in Empire State Development Grant Fund and Excelsior Tax Credits for priority economic development projects. Applications for Round 9 funding are due Friday, July 26, 2019 at 4:00pm, and late applications are not accepted. More information about the REDC process and the CFA portal can be found at www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov.

Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s economic development department.  One of their more popular incentives for businesses is the ESD Grant Funds program.  This grant has the ability to incentivize a business investment by offering funding, typically 10-20% of total eligible investments, which is reimbursed to the company in part at the completion of the project and the rest once job creation goals are met.  Eligible investments include equipment, building and land acquisition; construction and renovation; and site and infrastructure development, along with covering a limited amount of the project soft costs (engineering, architecture, etc.). ESD also offers Excelsior Tax Credits, a series of fully refundable tax credits to assist with business expansion investments, job creation, and research and development. Many projects applying for ESD Grant Funds may also be eligible for at least one of these tax credits. Businesses looking to apply for ESD Grant Funds and/or Excelsior Tax Credits can contact CEDA (www.cayugaeda.org/contact-us) for guidance on eligibility, guidelines, and what to expect from the process, as well as some assistance in ensuring their applications include the right information.

In addition to this year’s REDC awards, there is also $175 million available through the Workforce Development Initiative. This program seeks projects that “support strategic regional efforts that meet businesses’ short-term workforce needs, long-term industry needs, improve regional talent pipelines, enhance the flexibility and adaptability of local workforce entities, and expand workplace learning opportunities”. While the CFA portal is used to apply for these funds, the REDC application deadline does not apply and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. More information is available at http://www.ny.gov/workforcedevelopment, or you can contact CEDA.

One new program offered through the CFA this year is the Commercial and Industrial Carbon Challenge, which aims to reduce carbon emissions through energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. This funding program is offered by NYSERDA, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Awards under this Challenge are based on a project’s projected carbon savings goal, which should be $22 or less per metric ton of carbon saved. Awards of $500,000 to $5 million will be granted for energy efficiency improvements, on-site renewable energy systems, ground-source or air-source heat pumps, battery storage, or other similar technologies that will result in a carbon savings that can be measured and verified. Up to 70% of the overall award will be made available as project costs are incurred. The remaining funds will be disbursed after measurement and verification (M&V) to determine the actual carbon savings and will be adjusted based on what percentage of the carbon savings goal was actually realized. Projects resulting in a carbon savings of at least 90% of the goal will receive all of the remaining funds, while projects that do not reach that threshold will only receive a percentage of the remaining funds. The details of this program are in the 2019 CFA Resource Guide and at www.nyserda.ny.gov.

There are a number of resources available regarding this round of funding, including the 2019 CFA Resource Guide outlining all of the different funding programs and the 2019 CFA Application Manual describing the technical aspects of how to apply. These manuals, as well as a link to the application portal, are available at www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov. There will also an informational session on Friday, June 21 at 2pm at Cayuga Community College. At this session, state agency representatives will provide additional information, guidance and feedback about the various funding resources. For more information or to register for this session, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov/central-new-york.

Our role at CEDA is to assist you with the technical side of the CFA process and help guide your business through any other local, state, or federal assistance that could be helpful to your business. Once again, please reach out to us if you are interested in applying for ESD incentives this year. We can help make sure that your application includes the right information to be competitive in the CFA process. These grants are funded by our taxpayer dollars and will be awarded to businesses across the State. We want to bring as many of those dollars as possible back to Central New York and Cayuga County!

Tracy Verrier is Executive Director of Cayuga Economic Development Agency (CEDA). Call (315) 252-3500 or email tverrier@cayugaeda.org.
Published in the June 6, 2019 edition of The Citizen.