Governor Cuomo Launches $175 Million Workforce Development Initiative

Consolidated Funding Application through the Regional Economic Development Councils Aims to Create Economic Opportunity for Every New Yorker

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of the Workforce Development Initiative, which invests $175 million statewide for workforce development to support strategic regional efforts that meet businesses’ short-term workforce needs, improve regional talent pipelines, enhance the flexibility and adaptability of local workforce entities, expand apprenticeships and address the long-term needs of growing industries. These funds will also support efforts to improve the economic security of women, youth and other groups facing significant barriers to career advancement.

“We must ensure the workforce of today is not only prepared for the jobs we have now, but also ready for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Governor Cuomo. “The Workforce Development Initiative is another significant step to ensure future growth in the state and help New Yorkers succeed in the 21st Century economy.”

CenterState CEO led, Upstate Revitalization Initiative Proposal

“Investing in workforce development is essential to provide individuals with the skills they need for jobs in industries across the state,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Chair of the statewide Regional Economic Development Councils. “In order to keep up with the needs of the labor market, New York must lead the way to train workers in advanced manufacturing, health care, and energy to close the skills gap and create a pipeline of talent for employers. The Workforce Development Initiative will target resources to ensure training is available in our communities for good paying jobs that will continue to move our economy forward.”

In January 2018, Governor Cuomo announced the Workforce Development Initiative concept to strengthen workforce development in New York State. This new Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) will serve as the single point of entry for workforce development funding. Additionally, the State’s 10 Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) will play a critical role in recommending projects that align with their region’s economic and workforce development plans. Awarding economic development funds through the REDCs utilizes a tested and successful model that brings together higher education, industry and government leaders to plan the future of their regions. After eight rounds of the REDC process, more than $6.1 billion has been awarded to more than 7,300 job creation and community development projects consistent with each region’s strategic plans, projecting to create and retain more than 230,000 jobs. Establishing a new CFA for workforce investments builds on the success of this bottom-up model.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “As our economy continues to evolve, the Workforce Development Initiative will develop a model for the nation that will give New Yorkers the necessary tools to compete in a job market that is constantly changing and increasingly competitive.”

According to New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon, “Technology achievements and new generations of consumers are rapidly changing the nature of our jobs. The Governor is making sure that New York is ready to meet the challenges of these transitions head-on by focusing on new ideas for workforce development.”

Melinda Mack, Executive Director of the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals, said “We are encouraged that the Governor is taking a bold step to make workforce development a priority in New York. About 40% of New Yorkers have a high school diploma or less, and if we want to reach our full economic potential as a State we need to open up access to career pathways for anyone willing and able to work as a core principle of our economic development.”

A list of available resources will be accessible here. The CFA will open to applicants on May 8, 2019 and project plans and applications will be accepted on a continual basis. The funding made available for this initiative consolidates multiple programs administered by various state agencies and authorities.

Awards will fall into one of three categories:

  • Public-Private Partnerships to Advance 21st Century Skills: These programs expand the infrastructure and capacity of SUNY and CUNY to produce skilled talent that meets the needs of regional employers. The resources will provide funding for classroom space, technology and equipment, and industry-engaged curriculum development. These programs will also foster connections with regional employers by building structured work-based learning experiences such as internships; co-op learning; apprenticeships; and direct on-the-job training in high demand sectors like life science, STEM, and advanced manufacturing. Funds available in this category are provided through SUNY and CUNY and include capital, apprenticeship, customized curriculum and new job linkage opportunities.


  • Employer-Driven Skills: These programs expand employer investment in a skilled workforce pipeline. Resources will provide funding or tax credits to train incumbent workers and to recruit and train entry-level workers. Applications tend to come directly from employers. Funds available in this category are provided by the New York State Department of Labor, the New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) and Empire State Development for employer-driven employee.


  • Workforce Solutions: The Workforce Solutions programs provide flexible funding for innovative workforce development projects. Funds will support strategic regional efforts that meet businesses’ near-term workforce needs, address long-term industry needs, improve regional talent pipelines, and expand apprenticeships. The focus will be on regionally significant industries in emerging fields with growing demands for jobs. Funds will also support efforts to improve the economic security of women, young workers and other populations that face significant barriers to career advancement. Successful applications could include sector and industry-cluster-based strategies that regionally address a worker shortage and projects that have the potential to rapidly deploy and meet the demonstrated demand for current or anticipated job openings. Sources of funding from participating agencies and authorities will be matched to proposals, based on details of the project.


In recognition of the varied workforce development challenges faced across the state, a range of projects will be eligible for funding. The focus will be on regionally significant industries in emerging fields with growing demands for jobs, including those in clean energy, life science, computer science and advanced technologies. All projects and activities must be consistent with the region’s workforce development plans. Regional Councils will focus on supporting strategic regional efforts that meet businesses’ near-term workforce needs, address long-term industry needs, enhance the flexibility and adaptability of local workforce entities, improve regional talent pipelines and expand apprenticeships.