Pugliese Associates finds state funding for businesses, organizations and economic development entities
Why do growing organizations leave state funding assistance on the table?
Many organizations and developers simply do not consider the pursuit of state funding for their planned projects. Even when their projects would otherwise be very competitive for state incentives, there is often no consideration to pursue it. Conversely, it is also true that, of the worthy organizations which do pursue funding, many, if not most, fall short of receiving meaningful incentives or fail altogether. This is where an experienced, government affairs team gives clients the edge.
Understand this: If you are going at it alone, the odds are often not in your favor. While having a competitive project and a well-developed and written application is important, where most organizations fall short is understanding the nuanced steps that lay beyond the application – steps critical to compete on a disjointed and often uneven playing field.
Here are three good examples of often overlooked steps when in pursuit of a funding request:
- leveraging existing political connections;
- having a clear and up-to-date understanding of the state agency’s priorities;
- ensuring that all political bases are covered.
Perhaps the best way to explain each of these is through examples we have encountered at Pugliese Associates over the decades:
EXAMPLE #1: POLITICAL RELATIONSHIPS – Before this developer became a Pugliese client, he submitted a competitive application and pursued legislative support with both home legislators. That’s an excellent first step. However; the application was ultimately not approved. It was after this experience the developer came to Pugliese Associates as a client. What did we do differently?
- Because of our relationships with all four legislative caucuses and the Governor’s Office, we quickly understood that while the client’s home legislators wanted to be helpful, they had limited political clout and multiple funding requests already pending. We determined that we would need to develop more extensive political “buy-in” if this project was going to receive funding.
- Considering the project’s overall economic and employment impact for an entire region (i.e.; not just within the legislative boundaries of the project site), Pugliese Associates pursued funding support from legislators in the surrounding region, as well as the Governor’s Office and the PA Department of Community and Economic Development. With the expanded political support for the project, Pugliese was able to secure the needed state funding.
EXAMPLE #2: UNDERSTANDING EVOLVING AGENCY NEEDS — So many truly, wonderful applications for a multitude of state funding programs are often submitted simply by combing through the details of the program’s guidelines. Unfortunately, guidelines are just that – a guide. As such, they allow quite a bit of discretion for any given agency to adjust the kinds of elements they wish to focus on, perhaps due to feedback at a local level or to better sync with an Administration’s priorities. No matter, the only way to truly understand what an agency is thinking is to have the nurtured relationships with the staff who run the programs and to regularly interact with them. This is a strong suit for Pugliese and a value we offer to each of our clients who seek funding for economic development projects.
Whether the agency in question is DCNR, DEP, DCED or others, our lobbyists have the decades-long relationships to know in advance what an agency’s determinative and evolving application funding factors are – the factors which will be more heavily weighted within a particular funding round. For this reason, our clients understand which elements to highlight in their application, thus maximizing their chances of winning.
EXAMPLE #3: ROUNDING ALL THE BASES – CAUCUSES, GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, AGENCY STAFF — In a sense, this third factor is an extension of the first. One reason we expose our clients and their economic development projects to all relevant policy makers (i.e.; at a minimum, to each of the four legislative caucuses, the Governor’s Office and the relevant state agencies) is because at the end of the process, despite our best efforts, an application still may be declined. But at Pugliese, that doesn’t necessarily mean down and out.
Because of all of the work we do up front in “selling” our client’s projects and vision, there sometimes are alternatives. Two recent client examples of Pugliese Associates who were not initially, but were ultimately, funded best illustrate this point:
- A private developer with a highly competitive project simply did not receive support from the House and Senate caucuses whose members represent the project area. In this case, it was simply a matter of priorities and both caucuses had long-standing projects already awaiting funding. But, due to Pugliese Associates’ relationships in all four caucuses, and because we “advocated” this project early in the process by highlighting the significant economic benefit to the State, we were able to obtain significant funding through a caucus that has no elected member in or near the project area;
- Another example involves a small non-profit organization which is expanding its facility. It too will provide significant economic impact to both its local region and the State as a whole. In this case, the project application was initially denied, having failed to receive support from a single caucus. However, Pugliese Associates was able to work with the Administration to secure prior fiscal year funding that was being “clawed back” from previously-approved projects that had failed to move forward and whose funding was now unencumbered.
If your organization is planning an expansion of any kind and you wish to consider state incentives from which your competitors may already be benefiting, now is the time to meet with us.