Request for Qualifications for Consultant Pool

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CenterState CEO (CEO) is seeking submissions from Consultants (i.e., individuals or entities) to help drive the work of its portfolios forward by providing a variety of services relevant to CEO’s focus areas. The intention is to create a pool of experts that are pre-identified and ready to fulfill scopes of work as needs arise, and that, over time, deeply understand our dynamic work.

CEO has four core focus areas – Business and Economic Development; Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Economic Inclusion; and, Research, Policy and Planning. While any portfolio at CEO may access the Consultant Pool, it is anticipated that two of the four portfolios - Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Economic Inclusion - will leverage these resources most heavily. Please learn more about each portfolio here or below.

Expertise & Experience Needed

Providing support and capacity to CenterState CEO’s in-house teams to execute developing projects and initiatives.


  • Communications and Marketing
    • content development (written & visual), social media support, communications strategy, website design, digital marketing
  • Strategic Planning and Project Management
    • supporting teams to improve planning and implementation processes
  • Data, Research and Evaluation
    • interview- and desktop-based research to drive strategic and programmatic decision-making (e.g., best workforce-related opportunities to offer to low-income, working individuals);
    • data systems development (e.g., management and flow of information across multiple programs and teams);
    • database migration (e.g., staff training and technical planning);
    • data analysis and visualization (e.g., dashboard, graphics for website & reports)
    • program and process evaluation (e.g., process mapping)
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
    • needs assessments
    • program design
    • training delivery
  • Business Lending and Finance
    • traditional and alternative sources of business financing for client businesses
    • review and collaboration on emerging community-focused funding mechanism(s)

Longer-Term Needs:

  • Real Estate Finance
    • traditional and alternative sources of project financing for client businesses and/or community partners
  • Architecture and Design 
    • concept planning for priority sites, business corridors, etc.

Mutual Expectations 

Successful applicants will

  • Be attentive to, and as flexible as possible with, emerging opportunities as shared by CEO
  • Provide clear and timely feedback on experience working with CEO.

CEO will

  • Provide clear and timely communication regarding emerging opportunities to the relevant consultants.
  • Provide clear and timely feedback on experience working with consultant.


Submission Requirements, Selection Process & Length and Nature of Engagement

  • Applicants should submit a completed copy of this form, as well as any additional, relevant materials via email to Robin Kennedy at
  • CEO will review each submission, on a rolling basis, for individual and organizational fit and capacity, based on the information provided in the applicant’s submission.
  • CEO will contact applicants that are determined a potential good fit for an interview.
  • Successful applicants will become participants of the Consultant Pool.
  • As/when specific projects arise, CEO staff will share a scope of work, with Consultants with the needed skill set and expertise, for review. If agreement is reached between CEO and the Consultant, a Contract will be executed confirming scope, level of effort, duration of project and budget.
  • Multiple Consultants within one area of expertise (e.g., strategic planning and project management) will likely be selected to be in the pool to account for different project needs and consultant availability. We envision this pool as a flexible, efficient and valuable resource in support of CEO’s work. While there is no guarantee to either CEO or the Consultant that contracts will be executed, CEO will only select Consultants into the Pool they hope and expect to engage.


CenterState CEO and Its Work

CenterState CEO is an independent and forward-thinking economic development strategist, business leadership organization and chamber of commerce, dedicated to the success of its members and the prosperity of the region. CenterState CEO’s work occurs across four major portfolios: Business and Economic Development; Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Research Policy and Planning; and Economic Inclusion.


Economic Inclusion (Inclusion/EI) Portfolio
CenterState CEO is dedicated to creating thriving communities through increased prosperity. To do this work, the Inclusion team convenes and supports partnerships that bring together business and community leadership to address issues of poverty and economic disparity in the region. The work ultimately seeks to translate economic growth into economic opportunity, increased wealth and improved quality of life within low-income communities. The Inclusion team currently manages initiatives in the realms of workforce development, small business development/entrepreneurship; and neighborhood revitalization. Beyond its programmatic work, Inclusion seeks to pursue systems changes and advocate for public policies that advance the goals of economic inclusion. The work of EI is highly collaborative and involves a large number of partners.

Work Train Initiative

Work Train is dedicated to providing career opportunities for individuals who are unemployed and underemployed, while helping companies build stronger workforces. Work Train serves as a workforce intermediary and strategist – convening businesses, public organizations, and nonprofit entities to forge partnerships to deliver effective and non-duplicative workforce solutions. Work Train has the flexibility to identify workforce challenges, use a design process to develop innovative strategies, and assemble the right teams that are necessary to execute them. Currently, Work Train is focused in the industries of health care, manufacturing, tech, and construction.Work Train is a community workforce initiative, fiscally sponsored by the United Way of Central New York and staffed by CenterState CEO’s Economic Inclusion portfolio. Work Train is guided by a collaborative of leaders from philanthropy, business, government and the community.


Community Investment

CenterState CEO’s Community Investment team focuses on place-based economic development programs and projects aimed at the growth of small businesses and the stability of targeted neighborhoods in the city of Syracuse. Through our two neighborhood initiatives, the Northside Urban Partnership and the Southeast Gateway Initiative, we convene local stakeholders to cultivate and support various development and engagement activities that generate community wealth and improve the lives of residents and business owners.  Our entrepreneurship development program, Up Start, provides our clients with the skills necessary to launch their business, access capital, and purchase or lease real estate in our target neighborhoods.  


Community Engagement & Empowerment (CEE)
Community engagement strategies are key components to empowering residents, business leaders and community organizations to collaborate in actions to lead to system change. CEE engineers strategies that lend to successful planning and decision making. Decisions made about policies, public projects, and the distribution of resources will serve best if made in partnership with the people they affect. CenterState CEO seeks to include the input and perspectives of Syracuse’s diverse populations in its decision-making processes. In doing so, we strive to drive workforce innovation, attract community investment, and educate the community on economic development initiatives.


The Central New York region has a vibrant innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem where technologies are researched and developed, business models are nurtured, and entrepreneurs and innovators thrive. This inclusive ecosystem brings together innovative local business builders, startups and pioneering enterprise level companies.

For generations, entrepreneurs have taken advantage of Central New York’s inherent venture-friendly assets, such as accessible transportation, modern infrastructure, and educational resources and combined those assets with our exceptional quality of life to become sustainable contributors to the Central New York business community.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Portfolio
CenterState CEO provides programs, resources and facilities as part of a vibrant innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. CenterState CEO’s business incubator, The Tech Garden (TTG), provides a suite of support for entrepreneurs and innovators at any stage of the business life cycle.

Incubators & Accelerators
CenterState CEO operates and partners with several facilities to support the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, including The Tech Garden business incubator, SUNY Upstate’s CNY Biotech Accelerator, and the Syracuse Center of Excellence.

Through resources, programs and events, The Tech Garden helps create technology-leveraging startups, fosters the development of entrepreneurs, and supports the innovation ecosystem throughout Central New York.

Through its targeted entrepreneurial programming, CenterState CEO supports business growth at all stages.

GENIUS NY: GENIUS NY is the world's largest business accelerator competition for unmanned systems. This in-residence business accelerator program hosted at CenterState CEO’s Tech Garden goes beyond substantial direct investment. In addition to the grand prize of $1 million and four prizes of $500,000, the program also offers incubator space, company stipends, advisors, resources, programming, and connections, making it among the largest competitions of its kind across the globe. The program is made possible by $25 million in funding support for 5 rounds of the program, provided by Empire State Development, New York State’s chief economic development agency.

Clean Tech Center: A NYSERDA-funded initiative focusing on developing clean technology companies in Upstate New York. Startups can earn up to $15,000 based on achieving business milestones.

NY Hot Spot:  CenterState CEO’s  Tech Garden has been selected as Central New York’s Innovation HotSpot to provide tax incentives through programs, resources, and events offered by the Tech Garden and its partnerships with qualified business incubators.

CenterState CEO’s Innovation portfolio also supports small and emerging companies through ideation coaches and mentors, pre-seed workshops, hackathons, startup competitions, vendor pool, seminars and investor connections.

Road Map: The entrepreneurial road map is TTG's blueprint for progress, as entrepreneurs learn and apply the incubator’s unique business planning process. It allows staff to assess, align support, and track progress of the associated outcomes, milestones, tollgates, and potential rewards for each stage. Through the Road Map process, entrepreneurs can access funding programs, such as Ignition Grants, available to Tech Garden Members in the Ideation Stage needing a maximum of $10,000 to get to the next level.


The Tech Garden hosts more than 150 connection-building events every year.  


Research, Policy and Planning Portfolio
CenterState CEO provides research, public policy and initiative development support to help members in strategic and day-to-day decision making. 

Intelligent solution-oriented public policy analysis and business advocacy is a core function of CenterState CEO. CenterState CEO’s RPP expertise utilizes economic data, information and insight from the business community, and relationships with some of the most important policy think tanks in the United States, to conduct business development and inform strategies for regional growth.  Additionally, through the development and execution of targeted policy and advocacy efforts and connections to public sector partners at all levels of government, CenterState CEOaddresses issues that impact its members and the region’s business climate.

CenterState CEO also works to advance urban revitalization and enable business growth through improved regional infrastructure, coordinated site redevelopment and repurposing, and management of key business districts and sites. The portfolio offers expertise in place making, planning, urban revitalization and strategic property redevelopment. Through the work of CenterState CEO’s affiliated and partner organizations, unique initiatives, and programs, and advocacy for policies that support urban areas, CEO is helping to spur investment, build density, reduce sprawl, and enhance regional infrastructure assets that enable business growth and strengthen the region's overall competitiveness.


Business and Economic Development
CenterState CEO is dedicated to the success of its member companies and the Central New York region, which is why business leadership and economic development are at the core of CenterState CEO’s mission.                                                          

Members gain valuable access through CenterState CEO’sBusiness and Economic Development team to make them, and the region, more competitive.  This includes access to economic development support, advocacy, visibility, business resources, cost savings, employee development, and connections to nearly 2,000 members across the region.  CEO also assists businesses to become more competitive in international markets through export assistance programs.

CEO’s economic development initiatives deploy a range of resources to nurture business retention and expansion. CenterState CEOalso administers strategically focused business attraction initiatives to bring more jobs to our community.

This combined focus on economic development, member services, business attraction and retention, and global competitiveness is designed to help member businesses grow and create a platform for sustained regional success.

Release Date: February 19, 2020
Submission Deadline: Rolling Basis

Issued by: CenterState CEO

Submit Proposals & Questions to: Robin Kennedy at

Providing surge capacity to CenterState CEO’s in-house teams to move their work forward with intentionality and an impact-driven focus.

Post Date

Feb 19th 2020