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Just a baby, Excelsior Jobs Program will receive makeover

Courtesy photo
via NY.gov
The word "excelsior" appears on the New York State Seal, and according to Merriam Webster it means "still higher" and "upward." It's also the name of the Paterson Administration's economic incentives program.

The Excelsior Jobs Program debuted just six months ago. Its dollars were supposed to be directed toward the types of  business investment that the Paterson administration saw as the future of New York.

"The buzzword in economic development and in government these days is innovation," says Andrew Rudnick, president of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.

But Rudnick says the program was too specific and never saw liftoff.

"There wasn't all that much interest in it," he says.

Here's why.  First of all, the program was small, partly due to the state's poor financial condition. And Rudnick says the types of business it aimed to help, like biotech, already have many other avenues for state funding.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has promised to slash state spending by historic levels, which means Excelsior might not grow, but it's likely to get a makeover.

"What Governor Cuomo is trying to do is restructure what's there, more than expand what's there to provide greater incentives for job creation," Rudnick says.

Rudnick, one of the top economic development figures in western New York, says the business community is behind Cuomo's plans.

"We're praying he's successful," Rudnick says.

But Rudnick admits the governor's work has just begun.

WBFO/Western New York reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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