Building On Our Strength: My Two-Part Plan To Reinvigorate The Profitable Manufacturing Sector In The Empire State And Create Quality Jobs For New Yorkers

Legislative column from Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C,I-Canandaigua)
September 7, 2012

Why is manufacturing important in New York State? The first paragraph of the Manufacturing Association of Central New York’s (MACNY) public policy agenda says it all: “Manufacturing is a crucial component of any economy’s success, particularly in New York. Much of this nation’s technological innovation is fueled by the research and development (R&D) stemming from the U.S. manufacturing sector.”


As the President of Refractron Technologies and Co-founder of the North American Filter Corporation, I had the exciting opportunity to roll up my sleeves and create things that made a difference – in my case, filters that helped machines work better by cleaning substances like gases, water and other liquids. The pride I felt when my company’s filter increased the efficiency of a customer’s machine made all the long hours worth the effort, and I enjoyed knowing that my labors had helped to make our community a better place to live.

I take great pride in keeping my finger on the pulse of the manufacturing industry, and I’m grateful for the many things I learned during my time working in this important sector of the American economy. One thing I learned is that it feels good to run a successful business that allows employees to support their families, and it’s very frustrating when senseless government regulations get in the way of doing business or high taxes and fees threaten the ability to expand operations and create jobs.

This week’s column will focus on the first element of my two-part plan that would reinvest in, rebuild and restore New York’s manufacturing sector. My pro-growth legislative agenda would give our manufacturers the tools they need to create jobs and keep their companies in our local communities, as well as inspire New Yorkers to pursue a career in this cutting-edge industry.


According to MACNY, manufacturing is the wealth-generating sector of New York’s economy, contributing over $65 billion annually to the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). We rank sixth among the states in total manufacturing employment. Manufacturing creates growth in other industries, too – every upstate New York manufacturing job creates 2.67 related jobs in other sectors.

Around the state in communities like Rochester and Albany, universities, businesses and local stakeholders are teaming up to promote the growth of the technology industry, including high-tech manufacturing, with fantastic results that have put the Empire State back on the high-tech map! According to the Greater Rochester Enterprise, Greater Rochester ranks 18th among all U.S. metropolitan areas for high-tech employment with 65,650 workers – ahead of such high-tech hotbeds as San Francisco and San Diego.

In Albany, the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) is at the forefront of innovative research, development and commercialization of nanotechnology-enabled applications. Together with strategic partner Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology (SEMATECH), these initiatives are creating quality jobs and giving a giant boost to high-tech manufacturing across upstate New York.


Even with the positive impact our manufacturers have in their local communities, they still struggle with excessive health insurance prices, burdensome government regulations, exorbitant fuel costs and high taxes. Our continuing ability to foster business growth is key to creating and maintaining jobs for current and future generations. Quite frankly, attracting and retaining businesses that create jobs will reverse the alarming trend of people leaving the state. It should be our number one priority.

A recent Washington Post article (“Regulations a rising economic burden to manufacturers, report says”) cited a report commissioned by the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation that found the federal regulatory burden on manufacturers has more than doubled over 10 years, growing from about $80 billion in 2001 to more than $164 billion in 2011.


Now is the time for Albany to step up and show that we truly stand behind manufacturing here in New York State. The following smart solutions would address the critical problems that our manufacturers face as they struggle to create and retain quality jobs:

My Manufacturing Preservation and Enhancement Act (Assembly Bill A.4803) includes measures that would:

  • Provide a Manufacturing Enhancement Incentive (MEI) Wage Credit of 1.5 percent of the eligible wages to manufacturers who maintain or increase employment levels;
  • Create a two-tiered MEI Energy Credit for manufacturers – $25 for maintained employees and $50 for increased employment; and
  • Offer eligible manufacturing firms a 10 percent MEI Property Tax Credit for property assessed.

My additional pro-manufacturing legislation includes the following bills:

  • Re-establish a Regulatory Review Commission (Assembly Bill A.10419) – Reinstate a formal division of regulatory relief with the power to cut red tape. This division should provide a toll-free hotline and website for job creators to share concerns about any harassment from state agencies;
  • Work-NY (Assembly Bill A.10350) – Reduce the tax rate for all manufacturers by 50 percent; and
  • Grow-NY (Assembly Bill A.9603) – Create an economic gardening pilot program, providing grants to economic development entities that give assistance to second-stage manufacturing companies that employ 5 to 99 persons.

Putting the focus on measures that would encourage manufacturers to create new jobs and breaking down government and regulatory barriers that stop manufacturers from expanding operations in New York is step one in my two-step program to reinvigorate manufacturing in the Empire State. Here’s a sneak peek at step two: it involves removing the stigma traditionally associated with manufacturing careers. Stay tuned!

NEXT WEEK: The second piece of the puzzle: encouraging our students to pursue careers in manufacturing.

As always, constituents wishing to discuss this topic or any other state-related matter should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030 or e-mail me at