Manufacturing in the State of the State Addresses: New York

The newly elected Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, delivered his first State of the State address Wednesday, eschewing the state Capitol to speak at the convention center of the Empire State Plaza in Albany.

Gov. Cuomo did not mention manufacturing in his remarks, which were mostly about government and the state’s budget crisis. He did decry the state’s high taxes, concentrating on property taxes: “We have to hold the line on taxes for now and reduce taxes in the future. New York has no future as the tax capital of the nation. Our young people will not stay. Our business will not come. This has to change.”

Otherwise, Cuomo’s business-related proposals showed a reliance on government. From the transcript:

We are going to establish economic regional councils. Ten economic regional councils all across the State. They are going to be chaired by Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy. These will be public private sector partnerships the focus of which is to create jobs, jobs, jobs in those regions. It starts with the premise that there is no top down template to create jobs. You have different regions in this State with different assets and different abilities and these plans are going to have to come from the bottom up and let’s empower the local communities to plan their future and help themselves.

Higher education will be the key economic driver. We look to partner with our great SUNY system, especially across upstate New York in making this a reality. They will provide both intergovernmental and intra-governmental coordination and be one stop shops. State government, county government, local government will all be on one board and all the State agencies will be on that one board. If you need to get something done in that region, it’s a one stop shop and the government will actually cooperate with each other rather than conflict with each other.

These councils will have two main functions. First they will coordinate all the existing economic development money that goes into that region, primarily through ESDC. But second, they will be able to come up with job development plans and then compete against the other councils – to compete for up to $200 million in funding. Competition works. Let them come up with their best plans, compete against the other regions and we will fund the most creative plans.

The strategy will be familiar to followers of state government: Councils, coordination, one-stop shops, seed money, higher education as an economic-development engine. Some private-sector jobs might result, eventually.

Gov. Cuomo missed what would be a far more effective strategy for jobs: developing natural gas deposits in the Marcellus Shale formation, already a proven engine of growth in Pennsylvania. Now that would have a been a striking call an end to business as usual: “We will embrace the potential of the Marcellus Shale, moving forward with development a vibrant natural gas industry homegrown in New York State, creating jobs and providing the affordable energy that will boost industry and save money for New York consumers.”

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