New York State Announces $86.4 Million in Economic and Community Development Resources Awarded to Local Areas Through 2017 Regional Council Competition

Central New York,  Awarded $83.4 Million in Total Funding

All 10 Regional Economic Development Councils Receive Funding to Drive Local Economies Forward and Implement Strategic Plans for Growth

Western New York, Southern Tier, North Country, New York City and Finger Lakes Receive $329.7 Million in ‘Regional Council’ Awards

On Wednesday December 13th, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that more than $755 million in economic and community development funding has been awarded through Round VII of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative. A centerpiece of the Governor’s strategy to jumpstart the economy and create jobs, the Regional Councils were established in 2011 to replace the state’s old top-down approach to economic development, with one that is community-based and performance-driven.

The initiative empowers community, business, and academic leaders, as well as members of the public in each region of the state, to develop strategic plans specifically tailored to their region’s unique strengths and resources in order to create jobs, improve quality of life and grow the economy. More information on the 2017 Regional Economic Development Council Awards is available here.

Local Award award highlights include: 

Cogeneration Units at Metropolitan WWTP
Onondaga County Department of Water Environment Protection will construct improvements at the Metropolitan Wastewater Treatment Plant, located in Syracuse on the eastern shore of Onondaga Lake, that will allow the plant to utilize methane gas produced as a result of accepting food waste into its digestion system. Work will include installation of two cogeneration units to convert excess methane into electricity, reducing electricity  dependence from the grid.

Onondaga County Onondaga Lake Waterfront Planning
Onondaga County Onondaga County will prepare a Feasibility Study for beach access along the eastern shore of Onondaga Lake, design Reports for the 2.8-mile gap in the County’s Loop-the-Lake Trail spanning from the end of the Onondaga Creekwalk behind the Destiny USA Mall to the northern tip of the lake, and a Market Analysis including public visioning for redevelopment of county-owned waterfront properties.

Onondaga County South Salina Street Green Corridor
Onondaga County will transform multiple blocks of South Salina Street into a green street corridor to prevent combined sewer overflows from discharging to Onondaga Creek and Onondaga Lake. Bioretention and stormwater street trees will be used to infiltrate stormwater along the corridor before it enters the existing combined sewer system.

Syracuse City Ballet Administrative Workforce Expansion
Syracuse City Ballet will hire a Community Youth Outreach and Education Coordinator to expand the company’s ability to provide education enhancing ballet and dance programs to children in Central New York, with a focus on children living in poverty and those with disabilities.

La Roasteria, Inc., dba Café Kubal Headquarters and Roastery Expansion
La Roasteria, Inc., dba Café Kubal, which operates cafés in the Syracuse area, will acquire and renovate an existing building at 208 N. Townsend St. and an adjacent parking lot in the City of Syracuse, Onondaga County in order to relocate and expand its coffee roastery and operations functions from its current location in Syracuse, and to create an employee training center.

Onondaga Learning Disabilities Association of Central New York, Inc. Career Solutions
AcademyLearning Disabilities Association of Central New York, Inc. will provide a Career Solutions Academy (CSA) to enable participants to earn a Cleaning Technician credential from the Cleaning Management Institute (CMI).

A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is included below.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. I just realized we’re not in the Egg. I didn’t come in Uber. I was wondering how they got all the seats flat like that. And the fancy ceiling. What a beautiful facility. Congratulations to Albany. Let’s give them a round of applause on this beautiful new convention center.

To our great head of economic development, who’s just done a masterful job. He’s also obviously a pleasure. We’re working on his sense of humor. It is getting better, I promise you. But I’ve been all over the state with him. His reputation, the relationship that he has, the credibility that he has, is second to none. He’s a beautiful asset to the State of New York. Let’s give Howard Zemsky a big round of applause.

Our phenomenal Lieutenant Governor who actually cut so many ribbons, she actually hurt her wrist cutting ribbons. Give her a round of applause.

And to my colleagues I want to thank them very much for joining us. This is very much a joint enterprise between the Executive and the Legislative. And the Legislature has worked very hard on this program and they’ve been a great partner. So let’s thank Senator Amedore and Assemblymember Weinstein for being here today, and you’ll hear from them in a moment.

You know, the world is a frightening and a challenging place nowadays. And everything you’re doing, everything we’re doing in the state doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It exists in the context of what is going on. And it is a chaotic, frightening, challenging time. There are international tensions that we feel, there’s anxiety about the economy, there’s anxiety about climate change and extreme weather. And these are serious situations. The other morning I was walking through the New York City subway system where a bomb had just been detonated. New scourge of terrorism.

And we have the federal government that is reshaping the relationship between the federal government and the states. We have the federal government working on a tax plan that will reshape the economy of the United States of America. That’s what it will do. They’re trying to get it done very quickly, I think they’re trying to get it done very quickly because they really don’t want people to understand what it will do. But it will be transformative, there is no doubt. And everybody has an opinion nowadays. You turn on a TV, you open a newspaper, and it’s all filled with opinions. Senator Moynihan used to say you can have your own opinion, you can’t have your own facts.

So I want to talk about some facts this morning, without opinion. Inarguable facts about where we are. First, what you are doing, and what you have done at great sacrifice to yourself. Many of the people on the REDC signed on for one year or two years. They’re now in their seventh year of their one-year or two-year commitment. It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of committee meetings. It’s hard to forge consensus. It’s hard to get people to agree. Trust me I know. I work with the assembly and the senate. And as flexible a group as they are, it is still hard to reach consensus.

So you’ve given great personal sacrifice to make this work, and it is working. And when they write the history books, when they write the facts, it’s going to be clear that this was the pivot point, especially for Upstate New York. This is where you turn the corner. This is the point of inflection, where 50 years of decline turn to the corner to incline. That is what you have accomplished.

The video goes through it very well. You have the State of New York that is now a partner, and at a time of economic transformation the one thing you need is someone to help you. It takes money to make money. You’re going to retrofit your economy, you’re going to transform your economy? You need an investment banker. You need someone to bring financial assistance to the table. The state government should have been playing that role. It didn’t for many, many years. Why? Well, practical politics.

The New York State Legislature’s predominantly Downstate New York. 213 legislative members, 105 form New York City. A legislator’s job is to bring things back to their district. And you have that big nucleus in New York City, and Upstate New York is a long way away, and it’s diffuse, and the state government just didn’t make it a priority from a financial point of view.

Nobody’s fault, but that’s what it was. To the extent that the state government helped, as Howard pointed out, it was a very ad hoc approach. People in Albany would sit there and say, I think this will help Buffalo. I think this will help Rochester. Here’s our idea to help Central New York. Well how do you know from Buffalo what’s actually going to stimulate the economy. And you can’t just do one ad hoc project, it had to be part of a comprehensive overall business development plan. You’re wasting your money when you just do one project.

I remember I was in Washington, for years you know what the plan was for Buffalo? They were going to bring a Bass Pro shop to Buffalo. This was the plan to turn around Buffalo for years. A Bass Pro shop. How many jobs can you create with a Bass Pro shop? 10 jobs, 15 jobs? How many fishermen are you going to attract to Buffalo to generate a tourism economy? But that was the plan. That was the whole plan. And by the way they never even got the Bass Pro shop. And by the way incidentally we now have a Bass Pro shop, nobody noticed.

At the Cabela store. But that was literally the entirety of the State’s approach. Fact, New York is more business friendly than ever before—period. Critics say, “oh New York State spends too much money.” New York State spends less money than it ever has in recorded history, period. Our budget goes up less than two percent a year. The lowest amount in the history of, budget history, since they’ve been keeping numbers. Year to year, two percent.

Critics who say, “well they state is spending too much money,” this state is spending less than ever before. And by the way, then why did you vote for all those other budgets that had those larger increases? I’m a Democrat. I’m supposed to be big spending Democrats. Democrats can count too, I want you to know. And we’ve had Republican Governors where the spending has gone up multiples of what we’re now spending.

Because we spent less, we could cut taxes. And the simple fact is every New Yorker pays less taxes today than the day I took office. Every New Yorker on every level pays a lower tax rate. Middle Class lowest tax rate since 1947, even I wasn’t born. That’s how long ago that was. Manufacturing tax lowest since 1917. Low spending, low taxes, aggressive economic development effort like never before.

New York open for business, we advertise, we market. Howard Zemsky’s traveling all over the world literally to bring businesses back. You add up those three elements, that’s a business friendly economy and that is what the State of New York now offers.

We don’t have an ad hoc approach, we don’t have a political approach. We don’t have a governmental approach to economic development. We said to every region, you’re talking about developing jobs, you need a business plan. You don’t need a government plan, you don’t need a political plan, what is your business plan? What can you make, what can you sell, what will make you economically competitive?

And by the way, it’s a different answer all across the state. The answer for Buffalo isn’t the same answer as Syracuse, isn’t the same answer as the Southern Tier. We even have competition among the regions of the state. So develop your business product, what’s your niche in the economy that you can develop, where you can succeed? If you are going to open up a restaurant, you would want to know what is the restaurant that I can open that can attract consumers in a niche that the restaurant down the block isn’t offering. So, Buffalo is focused on the medical industry and solar, and Syracuse is focusing on drone research and Rochester on photonics and every region picked its own business plan to advance and that’s what they’re doing and it’s working.

And it is working. It’s not a matter of opinion. It is a matter of fact. There are still facts in the world, in this crazy world of politics and turmoil. There are still facts and the facts are it is working. Because it is math, my friends. There are more New Yorkers working today than ever before. When you started, the numbers are these: Unemployment was 7 percent in the Capital District, today it’s four percent. Finger Lakes was 7.5 percent, it’s now 4.6 percent. Central New York was 7.9 it’s now 4.6. Hudson Valley was 7 percent now 4.3. Long Island was 7.1 now 4.1. Mohawk Valley was 7.7 now 4.7 percent. New York City was 9 percent, it’s now 4 percent. North Country was 8.8 percent it’s now 5.2 percent. Southern Tier 7.6 percent, now 4.7 percent. Western New York was 8 percent, it’s now 4.9 percent. Those are numbers, those are facts, you did it, the unemployment rate is down, and that is inarguable. New York State now has the highest number of private sector jobs in the history of the state of New York over 8 million jobs. So it is working, and we have to keep it going.

But, we have another issue that we have to deal with now, which is the Federal government is passing a tax plan. And the tax plan is going to be highly problematic to the State of New York. First of all, what the tax plan says is, it was a tax plan that was marketed to help the middle class and the working families. That is not what it is. Fact, 60 percent of the benefit of the tax benefit goes to the top one percent. 60 percent of the tax benefit goes to the top one percent. That’s the fact. Their opinion, those who defend it, is well, if you stimulate the economy with the top one percent and the corporations get a break, they will wind up paying workers higher wages. That’s an opinion. How do you know the corporation will pay the workers higher wages? Is there a provision in the tax code that says they must take those monies and pay the workers? No. but we assume the corporation will take the tax cuts and give it to the workers. Or they could pay the CEO a higher salary, or they could do a dividend, or they could go buy a summer house in the south of France. Or, they could go buy a summer house in the South of France. Right? So there is no connectivity to the fact that the tax cut will actually stimulate and do more for the middle class at all.

One thing we know about the tax plan: it has a provision that is especially problematic to the State of New York. And that is the provision that eliminates the deductibility of state and local taxes. Now, this is an arrow designed at the heart of the State of New York. Property taxes and state income taxes are what we have been fighting for seven years. When we talk about property taxes, remember property taxes are two-and-a-half times what the state income tax is. Some of the highest property taxes in the United States of America are right here in New York, and we’ve been fighting that battle every year. First time we passed a 2 percent tax cap to cap the growth of property taxes. State picked up the Medicaid funding from counties so we could keep property taxes low. We just last year started a shared services initiative to get local governments to work together.

This federal tax bill plan blows that all out of the water. When you eliminate the deductibility from the property taxes, you know what you’re doing?  You’re raising everyone’s property taxes 20 to 25 percent. Think about it. Highest property taxes in the United States, highest property taxes by percentage of home value in Upstate New York, we’re talking about a 2 percent cap—it just went up 20-25 percent in one year, one fell swoop. State income taxes. We kill ourselves to keep the state spending low so we can reduce taxes, one move the federal government increases the state income tax 20 percent to 25 percent.

Why? Well, the argument is New York has high taxes and the federal government is going to punish New York for the high state and local taxes? Oh, you’re going to punish New York? What happened to state’s rights? Which was an essential platform in the old gospel of the Republican Party. What happened to states’ rights? You’re going to punish us, why don’t you punish all state revenues? We have a property tax and an income tax but every state raises revenue, right? Some states have a value-added tax. Some states have a real estate transfer tax. Why don’t you tax those taxes? Why just New York? It’s actually New York and 12 other states. Who incidentally, the 12 states are all blue states, they’re not red states. Who incidentally, the 12 states have no representatives in the U.S. Senate. So the Senate plan, conveniently, has a federal tax plan that is funded by the states they don’t represent. Isn’t politics a beautiful thing? So you’re taking from those 12 states to fund the tax cut in the other states. That is what this comes down to. And without justification.

Now, you say well, you’re a Democrat and you’re partisan. No, these are facts I have given you. I’m not giving you an opinion. And by the way, we have nine Republican Congress people in the state of New York. Five of the nine are against the plan. Why? Unless the five of the nine actually believe it’s going to hurt the people of their district. And it will. And I say to those people who are supporting it: why would you support a plan, even if you believe the plan is right for the nation. And even if you believe, well if we cut the tax at the top, it’s going to trickle down, the middle class will get more benefits and it’ll stimulate the economy. Let’s say you believe all that. Why would you support a plan that has a special provision that is a dagger at the state of New York, your home state? Why would you ever support that plan? Support the whole plan but say, do me a favor: don’t kill the people in my district.

Now, they have a compromise proposal that says we will cap the amount that is deductible so people up to $10,000 can deduct, but you can’t deduct anything over $10,000. And some Congresspeople have said, well I’m going to support that because then only the rich people in my district have to pay higher taxes. This must be upside down world. Ok? You now have a Republican argument that says we should tax the rich. Where am I? how many years has the argument been, we’re against the millionaire’s tax from the Republican party. Why? Because if you tax the rich they will leave. The top ten percent of taxpayers in the State of New York pay 73 percent of the taxes. And the argument has been, if you force those high income earners from the state, we’re going to have a real problem. And that was the basis on which they opposed millionaire’s taxes and higher taxes.

What happened to that argument? The Congressman who represents Western New York who will go nameless, Congressman Collins, he says he supports it, because it will have a cap of $10,000 and most of the people in his district don’t pay $10,000. He’s right. But the people who do pay over $10,000 represent 40 percent of the State revenue from his district if they leave, and we lose that 40 percent, what happens.

Only one of two things. Option A, government cuts funding primarily to education, or option b, that 40 percent takes their money elsewhere and the burden then falls to everyone else. The middle class and the working families. That is the reality that we are looking at. And that my friends can be devastating to the State of New York. Especially to Upstate New York. Which has a fragile economy that thanks to you we’re turning around.

But this tax plan will set us back. And it will put New York at a competitive disadvantage. Because only those 12 states will have this burden. We talk in Upstate New York we have an inherit disadvantage with the climate, which I’ve never believed. I was watching a news show this morning and the meteorologist said this is why I moved from Buffalo 35 years ago, because it’s minus 3 in Buffalo. I don’t believe that. I think those negative temperatures build character. They make your skin thicker. And they just make you a more well-rounded, seasoned person. Don’t you agree?

But, I don’t accept the climate as an obstacle. It would be an obstacle if our taxes are 20 percent higher than every other state. That would be an obstacle. And that’s why we have to fight it. And that’s why we have to oppose it. You have made great progress.

We have done everything right for seven years. The facts show the approach is working. We can’t have the federal government now pass a plan that takes a step backwards and raises the property tax and raises the income tax and sends the exact opposite signal we’ve sent, where they say to businesses New York has a higher tax burden than the rest of the country, go anywhere else but one of those 12 states. It would be a triumph for partisan politics over good policy.

And now my opinion. My opinion is, it would be political peril for anyone who does it. Because the people in this nation are tired of people playing politics over the interest of people. You look at every election that has happened. You look at all the past elections, you look at the election last night. You know what they’re saying? “I’m tired of you playing politics with my life and my interests and my rights and my values.” And what people are saying is, “play your own politics.” But I sent you there to represent me and do the right thing by me. The Congressional people should not pass a plan for their party bosses that comes out of the pockets of the people they represent. That’s the bottom line truth.

I’m going to fight it every step of the way. If they do it, I believe it is illegal. It will be the first time this nation has ever taxed taxes. It literally will be double taxation. And put this state at a structural disadvantage. You have done too much. And this state has come too far to be set back now by a knee jerk political partisan movement. I will fight this economic civil war every day I am Governor of the State of New York and any person who believes in New York and believes in fairness, and believes in representative government and believes in Democracy should fight the plan with us.

Congratulations on what you’ve done, and good luck.