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Governor Andrew Cuomo announced early in his term that he'd be creating a set of "regional economic councils" to build plans for funding economic development across New York, from the ground up.In the summer of 2011 he finally announced some of the details of the program, to be led by Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy. The ten councils each have dozens of members, and are charged with gathering input from the public and business leaders, and creating a plan by November 14. Those plans will be pitted against each other for a pot of $1 billion in grants, incentives, and tax relief from various state agencies. The winners will get more funding, the losers will get less.But other details - like whether funding will be available past the initial term, and who will serve on the board that decides who wins and who loses - have not been released.The Innovation Trail is looking for your feedback about what your regional economic priorities are, and what you want your community to look like once the councils have completed their task.

Cuomo localizes economic message, but details still vague

Gov. Andrew Cuomo hammered home his agenda of economic reforms Thursday, in the first stop of an upstate mini tour.
Daniel Robison
Gov. Andrew Cuomo hammered home his agenda of economic reforms Thursday, in the first stop of an upstate mini tour.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s speech in Jamestown today looked and sounded like a small town campaign stop.


Delivering a remixed (but mostly familiar) version of his State of the State speech (and another PowerPoint slideshow), Cuomo stopped by western New York to drum up support for his agenda before taking it to the legislature over the next few weeks.

The governor is carefully trying frame the debate around his ideas during his first few weeks in office. He’s not trimming or cutting budgets, but “redesigning” them instead.

And as he showed in his Jamestown speech, he’s not too shy to rattle off a litany of the state’s blemishes.

“1.6 billion dollars in economic development programs, we’re [ranked] number 50 [in the country for performance],” Cuomo says. “We have the worst business climate in the United States, the worst!”

As a fix, Cuomo repeated his pledge to take all existing economic development money and disperse it through 10 regional councils that he’s promising to create. The governor says partitioning the state and pooling money will create enough focus on each region to have an impact that New Yorkers and their businesses will feel.

Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi says small cities like his will receive the attention they deserve from the regional councils strategy. But he says the councils won’t matter unless they’re part of a much bigger initiative.

 “You can have the best incentives programs in the world, managed by the best people in the world, but if you have an overall environment that’s bad for business in the state because of the high cost of taxation, the high cost of service delivery, the best programs in the world are not going to produce jobs and investment for you,” Teresi says.

Cuomo also reiterated his goal of creating a $100 million fund to aid green jobs development. But he’s yet to outline where the money will come from.

The Democrat’s myriad of proposals has been called ambitious and historic, but he admits it will probably be difficult to pass all of them, or even a lion’s share.

“I think we will make progress. I think it’s unrealistic to also think you’re going to correct 20 years of neglect in 20 days. That’s not going to happen, either. But hopefully we start to make progress,” Cuomo says.

Cuomo will take his upstate tour to Watertown on Friday. 

WBFO/Western New York reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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