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Future of economic councils uncertain with budget talks "flexible"

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$130 million in economic development cash is in play as budget negotiations continue.

The status of Governor Cuomo's "regional economic councils" is still unclear.  Yesterday the Watertown Daily Times reported that the Senate had struck from the budget the proposal for 10 councils to deliver economic development funds.  Today Nick Reisman at Gannett is reporting that the proposal could be being held up as a bargaining chip:

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos faced questions over why the Senate moved $130 million to fund Cuomo’s proposed regional economic development councils into a budget that is used for capital improvements, which has on occasion been used for pork-barrel spending. Skelos said there wasn’t enough information on the councils in order to fund them properly. “It’s lack of information,” he said. Who is going to be making appointments? What’s the allocation for this funding?” Skelos said the $130 million Cuomo wants the councils to distribute would still be used for economic development under the Senate’s plan.

The bargaining chip thesis comports with what Jimmy Vielkind reports at the Times Union this morning: legislative leaders say they're not drawing lines in the sand, and are "flexible" about various provisions.

It's another one to watch as the budget battle reaches fever pitch.

Great Lakes shipping

An advocacy group for Great Lakes shippers says cuts to dredging funds for the lakes could force boats to reduce what they carry, reports the Associated Press:

The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force says if Congress approves the 2012 spending plan, the amount of sediment removed from the lakes’ shipping channels will be the smallest since record-keeping began more than 50 years ago. The group said Wednesday that the Army Corps of Engineers would dredge only 11 of the 83 U.S. ports on the lakes.

Starting a small business

A columnist at the Brighton Pittsford Post breaks down the difficult and mundane tasks that are involved in starting a small business.  The process is aggravating in the least - and self-defeating at worst, according to Cheryl Miller:

And there was an avalanche of paperwork: Affidavits, photographs and diagrams of premises, statements of use, approval of method of operation, inspections, approvals by the Department of Health. The business could have opened in time for the lucrative Christmastime holidays but, misdirected by the agency, the temporary retail permit was not received in time. Lawyer’s fees, application fees, and license fees consumed a small fortune, while not a penny was being earned by the business. Months later, the owners are still waiting for the liquor license.

It's definitely worth a read if you're wondering what on the ground conditions are like for some people taking their first steps toward the American dream.

Putting a stop on brain drain

About 500 young professionals are expected at the "We Live New York" summit next week, reports Todd Clausen at the Democrat and Chronicle:

Some examples of events include a business idea pitch competition, professional development sessions, a training session about running for public office, and panels on volunteerism, revitalization and entrepreneurship. There also will be roundtable discussions with leaders from across the state and a planning session on what participants can do to ensure the success of the state. [Summit chair Jeremy] Cooney said that the conference will also help identify young leaders throughout the state and help communities begin their own young professional organizations while trying to focus on a small number of initiatives to benefit existing groups. "We are really trying to get more people, a more diverse crowd," Cooney added.

You know who else will there? The Innovation Trail!  We're hosting a panel discussion about how New York can convince more young people to stay here at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 25.  If you're planning to attend the summit, join us - we're taping the program for air on our partner stations!  Look out for our Innovation Conversation, “Will You Stay or Will You Go?” in early April on your local public radio station.


A national trade group for contractors is pushing a new plan to boost construction, reports Eric Reinhardt at the Greater Binghamton Business Journal.  The Associated General Contractors of America are calling for a number of provisions that would amp up demand for their members' services:

The report calls for approving pending trade agreements to boost demand for manufacturing and shipping facilities, repealing the alternative minimum tax, and making permanent the tax cuts that were first put in place in 2001 and 2003. The plan also identifies new tax credits to encourage retail and restaurant upgrades, improve the efficiency of commercial buildings, and help contractors invest in new, more efficient construction equipment.

But is recovery for the construction business good news for the economy?  Jacob Goldstein at Planet Money reports that the lack of new homes on the market has boosted home prices.

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