Friday, August 21, 2015

Of Thematic Concepts and Financial Planning

Last week, Gossips reported about the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, which pits the seven upstate regions of New York against each other in a competition only three of them can win. The stakes are seductively high. Each of the three winning regions will receive $500 million--$100 million a year for five years. A key element of the competition is coming up with a compelling and unifying theme for the region, to which all of the projects to be funded with the money relate. Yesterday morning, a meeting to solicit ideas from the most downstate part of the Capital Region took place at Columbia-Greene Community College. Katie Kocijanski reports on that meeting in today's Register-Star: "Twin County biz owners share thoughts for URI plan." 

Some of the suggestions made at the meeting reveal just how hard it will be to come up with a unifying theme. Attendees from Columbia County talked about such things as the region's agrarian economy, the cultural economy, and heritage tourism. In contrast, someone from Greene County spoke of the need for more manufacturing.

The Upstate Revitalization Initiative was a topic of discussion at last night's Common Council Ecomonic Development Committee meeting. Speaking of the URI, Sheena Salvino, executive director of HDC, told the members of the committee present (Don Moore, Rick Rector, and Nick Haddad) that the $500 million, should the Capital Region be one of the lucky winners, "still requires matches." She advised the committee, "We need to have the match thought about and set aside." 

In urging this financial preparedness, Salvino was recommending pretty much the same thing that the Council president and city treasurer proposed last November: a capital reserve fund. It will be remembered that the mayor was vehemently opposed to the concept, because it required a $70,000 contribution from property taxes, and the more myopically parsimonious members of the Council agreed, voting 1,383 to 645 to remove the $70,000 that would establish a capital reserve fund from the 2015 budget.

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