January 2015, NYS announced the Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI) to create and maintain well-paying net new permanent private sector jobs, attract and retain private sector investments, and contribute to the growth of widespread wealth across Upstate New York. Seven regions were eligible to compete for one of three $500 million prizes. The competition combined the expertise and structure of the Regional Economic Development Councils with successful elements of Western New York’s Buffalo Billion Initiative. Each region was charged with developing their own investment plans based on a comprehensive view of the region’s economy.

Using the knowledge gained as a key player in the development of the Buffalo Billion, UBRI assisted each of the Upstate regions with research to help guide their URI plans. Our work consisted of a range of decision-making tools that helped create a more level playing field and prepare regions as they embarked on their planning processes to solidify their own regional visions for the future. Our research was designed as a step-by-step guide and bottom-up approach to lead regions from a broad analysis of their current economic conditions to an implementation plan for targeted, strategic initiatives. Each deliverable built upon the previous one with the end result being a comprehensive set of materials to inform an investment plan grounded in solid research and stakeholder commitment. Using this data, compiled uniformly and in an unbiased manner across all regions, combined with the work of the Regional Economic Development Councils, helped each region design a competitive plan.