Economic Development, Jobs—the Only Solution to Better Times

August 1, 2011
There was some good news concerning the economy that came out of Oswego last week. Novelis, an aluminum manufacturing company that employs roughly 650 employees, announced that it will expand its operations. It will invest about $200 million in their current facility, which will considerably increase the company’s capacity for producing aluminum sheet for the automotive industry. This is great news for Oswego County. These are high-paying jobs that support families who, in turn, support local stores, restaurants and services.

According to the company’s economic impact profile from 2010, the Oswego plant workers earned wages totaling $71.2 million. This contributed $13.15 million in state and federal income taxes as well as $548,000 in property taxes. Novelis manufactures aluminum sheet for the beverage can, building and construction, and automotive markets, as well as home appliances and electronics. This latest expansion will enable the company to hire an additional 100 workers. This is great news for Oswego County in particular, where the unemployment rate is at 12%.

The Governor announced last week that now that the legislative session of 2011 has come to a close, he’s turned his focus on job creation. I’m glad to hear this, and I hope jobs are created for everyone’s sake. Job creation should start in the private sector. Government can help best by making this a friendlier state to do business in. For example, we can lower the cost of energy, which would help to keep the jobs we have here. We also can stop passing measures at the federal and state levels that create more costs for businesses in the long run. Many economists, including the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors, recently revealed that the stimulus did very little, if anything, to stimulate the economy. It is clear, however, that it stimulated debt. The council reported the stimulus added or saved roughly 2.4 million jobs at a cost of $666 billion, which is a cost of $278,000 per job. I would hardly say this was the intended outcome. Sustainable jobs are derived within the private sector.

Last week, the new Regional Economic Development Councils were announced at the On-Center in Syracuse. There are 10 throughout the state. Our region is represented by the Central New York Regional Council. This council is comprised of 19 general members and two co-chairs that have interest in business, academia, labor, agriculture, nonprofits and community-based organizations. County- and city-elected officials will serve ex-officio. The goal is to “redesign the relationship between the state government and businesses to stimulate regional economic development and create jobs statewide.” I hope these meetings can be productive and help spur real, sustainable jobs within our area.

In tandem with this announcement, the state also has streamlined the state economic development grant application process, and combined the pool of funding from nine state agencies and authorities to be made available through one application. Regional councils will be encouraged to use this new application to help foster more regional planning. Their first order of business will be to develop a five-year regional plan. I encourage you to weigh in with your thoughts to the council as they devise this five-year plan. These councils operate under the theory that a bottom-up plan is better than top-down. I hope these councils can see to creating jobs for Onondaga and Oswego counties. The task ahead of them is not an easy one but our area can capitalize on its strengths such as our energy generation facilities, as has been stated by members of the council. To read more about the Regional Development Councils, visit www.governor.ny.gov/regional-council-guidebook.pdf.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by calling (315) 598-5185. You also may find me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.