By JON CAMPBELL
Gannett Albany Bureau
ALBANY - Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that at least $1 billion in grants, tax breaks and other funds will be lumped together as part of a competitive jobs program his administration is launching.
Calling it the largest economic-development program in the state's history, Cuomo released a 52-page summary of how the regional-based competition will work, one day after detailing the basic framework of his plan to his cabinet and reporters.
"Economic development is the priority," Cuomo said. "The best thing we can do for the state is to grow the economic base, grow the tax base, and we're now at a point where we want to deploy the entire government to focus on that goal."
Under Cuomo's plan, the state will be split into 10 separate regions, which were officially unveiled Wednesday. Each region will be represented by a council -- made up of government, business and academic leaders -- which will put together a five-year strategic plan for building its individual economy.
Based on those plans, the state will determine in December how to split up the funding, which includes $130 million tucked into this year's budget for capital projects and about $900 million in existing incentives available from state agencies for businesses and job-creating projects.
"We're saying to governments all across the state that we're serious about this," Cuomo said. "We're putting our money where our mouth is. It is about bringing jobs to New York and growing jobs in New York."
The ten regions are identical to the geography covered by the ten offices of the Empire State Development Corp. spread across the state.
Rochester, for example, falls into the Finger Lakes region, which stretches from Orleans and Wyoming counties east to Wayne and Seneca counties. Binghamton, Elmira and Ithaca are all included in the Southern Tier region, while Westchester, Rockland and Dutchess counties fall within the Mid-Hudson region.
The makeup of each region's council will be announced "in the coming weeks," said Cuomo, who featured the panels as a cornerstone of his first State of the State address.
Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy will be the official chair for all 10 councils, while Cuomo will appoint a pair of vice chairs from each region -- one from the business community, the other from academia.
For regions other than New York City and Long Island, county executives will also serve on the panel, as well as the top official from the three largest municipalities.
Other members will be appointed as needed to two-year terms.
The initial five-year plans are due by Nov. 14, with a determination of how to split up the resources made by the end of the year, according to Cuomo's office.
Cuomo's plan has the cautious backing of much of the business community, which has long been critical of New York for its high taxes and poor business climate.
"By looking at economic development from both a statewide and regional perspective, business and civic leaders will have direct input into how economic incentives, procurement practices, tax relief and mandate relief initiatives are designed," Heather Briccetti, acting president of the state Business Council, said in a statement.
The governor has called the economic-development initiative "phase II" of his first year in office. Cuomo also unveiled plans to roll out a $10 million marketing campaign to attract the private sector to New York, complete with television and radio advertising.
The state is currently accepting bids from marketing companies for the advertising campaign.
Here's a breakdown of which counties fall within the ten regions:
Western New York: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Niagara
Finger Lakes: Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, Yates
Southern Tier: Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins
Central New York: Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, Oswego
Mohawk Valley: Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego, Schoharie
North Country: Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence
Capital Region: Albany, Columbia, Greene, Saratoga, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Warren, Washington
Mid-Hudson: Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, Westchester
New York City: Bronx, Kings, New York, Richmond, Queens
Long Island: Nassau, Suffolk