New co-vice chairs of the Long Island Regional Economic Development...

New co-vice chairs of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, John Nader, left, and Linda Armyn, center, speak with Cara Longworth, Regional Director of the Empire State Development Council, at a meeting at Farmingdale State College Friday. Credit: Linda Rosier

The state has launched a $350 million initiative to improve workers’ skills to match jobs that employers are having difficulty in filling, officials said Friday.

As part of the initiative, Empire State Development, the state’s primary business agency, is asking employers to complete an online survey about the skills that they want new hires to possess and the types of training programs that are needed.

The survey, which is being conducted with the state Department of Labor and the Business Council of New York State, an Albany-based trade group, is available at It must be completed by Friday.

The results will be used by the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council and nine others across the state to recommend training programs for $150 million in grants over several years, according to Matthew Isgro, the ESD official who oversees the councils.

“We’re asking you to identify the most in-demand skill sets needed by employers and the populations for whom workforce training is most needed in the region,” he told members of the Long Island council during a meeting at Farmingdale State College.

Isgro added, “This inventory of the region’s workforce development needs will serve as a guide when you review applications for grant funding.”

The applications will be scored using a 100-point scale with the development councils awarding up to 20 points and the state agencies providing the money, 80 points.

The training grants are from $765 million in state funds to be distributed through this year’s Regional Economic Development Councils’ competition. Besides ESD, nine other state agencies award grants and tax breaks via the contest.

The application deadline is July 29 for much of the funding.

Among the 10 councils, the 22-member Long Island council has placed in the top half six times since then-Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo established the competition in 2011. The local council has secured $770 million for 930 projects as of April 4.

Isgro said on Friday that applications for up to $440 million will not be scored by the development councils this year, a first in the competition’s history.

Isgro said the move was made to lessen the councils' workload.

“New for this year … some [funding applications] will be 100% scored by state agencies,” he said. “This is being done … to ensure the councils focus on programs that have the most economic development impact, along with focusing on the new workforce [development] task.”

New LIREDC members

Four people on Friday joined the panel that has helped determine where state business-aid goes on Long Island since 2011.

The new members of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council are: Sol Marie Alfonso-Jones, senior program officer at the Long Island Community Foundation; Dan Lloyd, founder and president of the advocacy group Minority Millennials; Susan Poser, president of Hofstra University, and Phil Rugile, executive director of the training group Institute for Workforce Advancement.

Council members are not paid.

Openings on the 22-member development council occurred after longtime co-vice chairmen Kevin Law and Stuart Rabinowitz resigned and were succeeded by Linda Armyn of Bethpage Federal Credit Union and John S. Nader of Farmingdale State College.

Two other seats were vacated by Belinda Papdanganan and Jermaine F. Williams.

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