On Monday, December 5, 2022, Empire State Development (“ESD”) announced that it will be providing up to $200 million in grants for the preparation and development of commercial sites across New York state to promote “shovel-readiness” to attract large employers, including high-tech manufacturing and interstate distribution and logistics businesses. Funding for the $200 million Focused Attraction of Shovel-Ready Tracts New York (“FAST NY”) program was included in the New York State Budget for the 2023 fiscal year.

ESD will begin accepting Letters of Intent to Apply (“LOI”) on a rolling basis through ESD’s application portal starting December 15, 2022. The link to the LOI form can be found on the ESD website. The LOI form requires each applicant to provide a brief description (not to exceed 200 words) of the project including how the project or site meets the FAST NY program goals. The project description should include the size of the project or site (in acres) and an explanation of how the applicant would use the grants from the program, and how the applicant’s end goal for the project or site would impact the local and state economies. The project description should also include the high-level plan to market the site for an intended industry.

The FAST NY program will enable municipalities and local economic development agencies to prepare proposed and existing industrial parks and commercial development areas for competitive selection by site selectors looking to place significant industry and employers. The program is widely considered to be a major move by New York state to level the playing field for major projects seeking to select New York locations and quickly develop large production, distribution and logistics facilities.

There are three tracks of awards available under the FAST NY program, including:

  1. Track A – the Shovel-Ready Certification, which is a no-cost designation by ESD for site-marketing purposes that establishes that the applicant has worked proactively with the State to address all major permitting issues prior to a business expressing interest in the location;
  2. Track B – Pre-Development Grants, which are working capital grants of up to $500,000 per site that will be awarded to fund the cost of necessary pre-development site planning and reviews for future shovel-ready sites; and
  3. Track C – Infrastructure Improvements, which are capital grants awarded to improve the shovel-readiness of existing sites by funding infrastructure improvements such as water, sewer, transportation, electricity and gas.

Eligible applicants for the FAST NY program include (i) municipalities, (ii) municipally designated non-profit economic development organizations, (iii) municipally designated local development corporations, and (iv) industrial development agencies. To be eligible for FAST NY grant consideration, an applicant’s site must be at least 40 acres in size; however, exceptions may be made for smaller sites that provide certain public benefits, including factors such as proximity to transportation terminals and the possibility for brownfield redevelopment. A FAST NY program applicant must have either (i) control or ownership of the site, or (ii) written consent from the parties who own and control the site as a pre-requisite to submit an application for FAST NY funding.

After an applicant has submitted an LOI through the ESD portal, ESD will send an email to the applicant confirming receipt of the LOI within seven (7) calendar days. ESD will determine an applicant’s eligibility to submit the full application within 30 calendar days. ESD will not accept a full application from an applicant until the applicant has received an approved LOI from ESD. Awards will be allocated on a rolling basis until FAST NY funding is exhausted. Projects will be initially reviewed for eligibility, may be subject to a site visit, and will ultimately be selected for advancement or denial based on an ESD internal project review committee.

Additional information about the FAST NY program can be found on the ESD website.

If you have any questions about the FAST NY program and would like to speak with an experienced public finance and economic development attorney, please contact Justin Miller at (518) 701-2710 or jmiller@harrisbeach.com or Michael Discenza at (212) 912-3605 or mdiscenza@harrisbeach.com.

This alert is not a substitute for advice of counsel on specific legal issues.

Harris Beach has offices throughout New York state, including Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Long Island, New York City, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Syracuse and White Plains, as well as New Haven, Connecticut and Newark, New Jersey.