With the hopes of wooing more businesses, State Employees Federal Credit Union President/CEO Michael Castellana recently made a pitch before state officials to bring $40 million in grants and tax credits to the Albany, N.Y., region.
In addition to heading the $2.3 billion SEFCU in Albany, Castellana is co-chair of the Capital Region Economic Development Council.
On Nov. 29, the council met at the capitol before a five-person panel appointed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to compete with other regional councils for grants and tax credits.
According to Cuomo’s office, 10 regional councils with the top strategic plans as ranked by a strategic plan review committee will each receive up to $40 million in funding. The grants will support regional capital projects and the tax credits will be awarded to businesses and other projects towards job creation.
Castellana told the panel that the Capital Region has a strong nonprofit sector that has been a significant driver of the region’s economy for some time. Nonprofits have also brought businesses and jobs to the area, he added. One of the projects in the Capitol Region council’s plan is a $100 million revolving loan fund for small businesses.
The government-appointed panel will review plans from all of the regional councils and is expected to make a decision sometime this month.
Castellana was not available by press time to provide additional comments. However, in July, when Cuomo announced the launch of the councils, he applauded the move.
“It is truly an honor to join the governor in a process that will open the doors of New York for business. This new paradigm for economic development will change the rules of the game and ensure that New York regains our position as a capital of commerce,” Castellana said in a statement.
Currently, New York State's economic development efforts are managed through dozens of separate state and local agencies, according to Cuomo’s office. The regional councils aim to bring together stakeholders in every region of the state to serve as a coordinated point of contact for economic development.
Cuomo has made changes to the state's economic development grant application process to support the regional councils. Through a new consolidated funding application that combines resources from dozens of existing programs, the councils applied for $1 billion in state funding for projects they determined to be part of their regional strategy.
“New York can no longer afford one-size-fits-all economic development plans that ignore the unique assets and challenges of the state's many diverse regions,” Cuomo said in a statement at the time of the councils’ launch in July. “Today, we are taking a groundbreaking approach that will send a clear message that New York is open for business. With the Regional Councils, we will empower individual areas like Capital Region to chart their own course for economic growth, bringing jobs and investment to New York.”