Over the past week, the Assembly and Senate have worked together in joint budget conference committees to bring New Yorkers a budget that focuses on job creation to stimulate our state economy.
As an alternate member of the Economic Development Joint Budget Conference Committee, I have been working to revitalize the state economy, starting with programs that will create more jobs for skilled workers right here in Central New York.
The Assembly’s plan uses targeted tax breaks; investments in education, research and development; and a focus on New York’s growing high-tech industry to bring more high-quality jobs to our region and our state.
Despite 12.1 percent job growth nationwide from 1995-2004, New York’s employment growth lagged far behind. Had the upstate economy grown at the national rate, it would have gained more than 200,000 jobs instead of merely 76,000. The Assembly plan is designed to help New York match, and ultimately surpass, nationwide levels of job growth over the next decade.
Revitalization through incentives
The state economy is struggling because young, highly-educated New Yorkers are leaving in droves for jobs elsewhere, while in-state companies complain they are unable to find enough skilled workers. This apparent paradox is addressed by the Assembly’s plan, which provides a mixture of investments and tax cuts to connect job seekers, employers, related industries, venture capital and university-supported research.
By bridging the gap between these elements on a regional basis, the plan will ensure that economic resources stay within the state instead of heading elsewhere. The overall approach includes common-sense steps, such as the creation of a yearly strategic plan for economic growth and the implementation of a “one-stop” permitting process, making it easier for new businesses to be more competitive.
Creating a lab-to-market pipeline
As chair of the Assembly’s Task Force on University-Industry Cooperation, I understand the importance of bringing business leaders together with the academic world. The Assembly plan focuses on spurring new, exciting innovations by fostering university-supported research and establishing a solid connection with local industry.
Eighty percent of the fastest-growing occupations are dependent on science and mathematics, with a projected 2 million jobs to be created in the next decade. Recognizing that these innovations require highly-skilled workers to go into production, the Assembly’s plan provides community college funding – targeted at training for recognized growth sectors within the state – and increased Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) and Collegiate STEP funding to support math and science undergraduates.
While New York is already ranked second in the nation for federally funded university research, these efforts must be expanded to propel innovations into the marketplace, where they can create jobs and raise capital.
Unfortunately, the high risk associated with developing products often creates a barrier to receiving support from the investment community. The Assembly plan focuses on moving these products from the initial startup costs to the level where venture capitalists are interested by providing tax credits to angel investors who bridge this gap.
Boosting urban development through small businesses
While regional economies will retain their own competitive advantages, the Assembly’s plan also includes a statewide focus on research. The plan would create two new Centers of Excellence and a new state intellectual property policy that I sponsored to assist small businesses and encourage product commercialization through state grants (A.6431-A).
Research institutions in the state produce thousands of inventions with commercial potential each year, often with state support. The intellectual property rights held by these research institutions could be purchased or licensed by companies located anywhere in the country or the world. In order to keep the economic benefits flowing through New York, it is necessary to assist indigenous entrepreneurs and small businesses in commercializing their intellectual property. Developing this potential into successful products manufactured by firms located in New York could create thousands of well-paying jobs for state residents.
The commercialization assistance program would authorize the Urban Development Corporation to competitively award grants of up to $100,000 to be used for working capital, the acquisition or upgrading of equipment, or leasehold improvements necessary for commercialization of the product, device, technique, system or process.
Marketing New York
As the final component of these changes, the Assembly plan recognizes the need to reshape the image of upstate New York and expand on the image of the city to attract investors and tourists. The Assembly plan would target marketing efforts such as the “I Love NY” program to tourists outside of New York State, since the current marketing is inexplicably directed at in-state New Yorkers.
We need to move beyond tired approaches to economic growth based on 20th century ideas of business and management. Crucial tax dollars shouldn’t go toward making us feel good about our state, they should be working to let individuals in other states and countries know why they should invest and visit New York.