The Regional Economic Development Council in New York City held its first meeting on Tuesday, as part of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's initiative to attract and retain businesses and jobs.

Later Tuesday, a similar meeting was held on Long Island. Lieut. Gov. Robert Duffy spoke at both sessions.

Under the plan, councils from 10 regions statewide are competing for $200 million in state economic funds.

Cuomo said the councils are modeled after the federal empowerment zone program that President Bill Clinton undertook beginning in 1994. The governor, who took office in January, hopes to build partnerships among the state, the private sector, and higher education.

"This was the first meeting of a substantive nature. What's interesting is that these are groups of people who know each other tangentially and sometimes even consider each other as competitive, and are all at the same table working together," said Empire State Development Corp. spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell.

At Tuesday's meeting at the City University of New York Graduate Center in Manhattan, the 24 members broke into small groups that discussed such initiatives as small business creativity, immigrant entrepreneurship, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal for an applied science and engineering campus.

The co-chairs of New York City's Economic Development Council are CUNY chancellor Matthew Goldstein and American Express chairman and chief executive Kenneth Chenault. On Long Island, the co-chairs are Hofstra University president Stuart Rabinovitz and Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association, a business-oriented civic group.

In addition to New York City and Long Island, regional councils have formed for the Mid-Hudson, Capital Region, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Central New York, Southern Tier, Finger Lakes, and Western New York.

As an incentive, the state will award $200 million in capital funds and tax credits to regions based on their strategic plans, with $130 million coming from the regional economic development projects capital fund and $70 million in tax credits from the Excelsior jobs program.

The four regions with the top strategic plans, as ranked by a committee, will each receive up to $40 million in funding: $25 million in capital grants and $15 million in Excelsior tax credits. The six remaining regions will divide the balance of the incentives.

They may also apply for a further $800 million in funding for regional growth projects in such areas as energy, transportation, and housing.

Also available are allocations of tax-exempt status for bonds that would be available from up to $350 million of the annual federal authorization of the 2012 bond cap for industrial development.

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