Westchester Issues RFP for Consulting Services To Help Develop Economic Development Strategy

John Jordan | March 2020

Bridget Gibbons, Director of the Westchester County Office of Economic Development.

WHITE PLAINS—The Westchester County Office of Economic Development recently issued a Request for Proposals for consultants to help the county develop a county-wide or area-wide economic development strategy and implementation plan.

According to the RFP, which was released in February, the county is looking for a qualified consultant or team of consultants to assist in the preparation of the economic development strategy that will help the county in defining priorities in the next one, three and five-year periods.

“In particular, the WCOED is seeking an objective assessment of the county’s current business environment, its strengths and weaknesses, and potential areas of growth,” the county stated in the RFP.

Interested firms had until March 13 to submit the RFP. The contract term for the consultancy work is from April 2020 to September 2020.

The scope of services call for the firm to analyze existing and potential industry clusters and verticals (e.g., healthcare, education, finance, corporate office/HQ, biotech/life sciences, etc.) and determine where the county can be most competitive and where there is the greatest potential for growth. The winning firm will also conduct in-depth analysis of Westchester’s critical economic infrastructure.

The RFP also requires the consultant “to review and assess job creation, workforce development business and talent attraction and retention, structural assets and infrastructure, and make recommendations as well as a plan to operationalize and optimize to support growth in the recommended industry clusters and throughout Westchester County.”

“There has not been an economic development strategy (for Westchester County) since 2000,” said Bridget Gibbons, director of the Westchester County Office of Economic Development. She said the RFP will help the county collect data to either justify its present economic development and marketing strategies or suggest new paths going forward.

Gibbons said that there really wasn’t much data to back up the rationale behind the county’s past and current economic development strategy and programs. She noted, “It was really based on tradition or instinct or a good idea. So, I feel we need to look at the data and have the data tell us, for example, where are we strong in terms of industries and sectors and where is there potential for growth and focus on those areas.”

Gibbons said that more than likely the county would phase the formation of the overall plan and perhaps initially work on workforce issues and needs and then look to cover other areas critical to the county’s economic development efforts.

“I am impatient and I want to get going,” she said, noting that the department could not move forward on a number of initiatives without a concrete and comprehensive multi-year economic development plan.

She noted that firms that were solicited to participate in the RFP were national firms that have experience with the public sector and economic development and will provide input and recommendations on how the county’s Office of Economic Development spends its marketing funds, what programs the department implements and how it works with employers.

At the completion of the contract Gibbons said the county “will be in a better position to be more effective and to really have a strong impact on the economy of Westchester.”

Gibbons said she estimates the contract will be valued in the $300,000-range.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth