By Empire State Development
Over the past year, New York State has continued to promote a vigorous and growing economy, driving innovation and expanding opportunities across the state. Through strategically-placed investments, and working closely with local communities, New York is building economies from the ground up and supporting Governor Andrew Cuomo’s holistic approach to economic development. We’re making place-based investments in revitalizing infrastructure and creating livable communities, training our workforce, supporting tradable sectors that will encourage companies to grow here and spurring innovation through industry-university partnerships. Our unique approach is not only delivering proven positive economic results in the short-term, but also laying a foundation for a thriving, sustainable business environment for generations to come.
The state economy is growing: private sector jobs have reached an all-time high of more than eight million, while unemployment remains at its lowest level on record. Since 2011, private employers across New York State have added more than one million jobs.
New York’s community-based, bottom-up approach to economic development continues to empower local decision-making across the state and is rooted in our belief that where investment occurs matters. Ten Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs), made up of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, local government and non-governmental organizations, help develop long-term strategic plans to support job growth and community development. Since 2011, the first year of the initiative, the REDCs have helped direct more than $6.1 billion in awards to more than 7,300 projects that are projected to create and retain more than 230,000 jobs statewide. The 2018 awards—more than $763 million in community and economic development funding—were focused on the state’s priorities of developing workforce development strategies, identifying projects to grow the life science cluster and supporting plans to revitalize our downtowns.
The $1.5 billion Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI) continued to advance the Upstate economy in 2018, with projects supported by $500 million in funding, allocated over five years, to winning regions in Central New York, the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier. URI project highlights from 2018 include the continued advancement of Central New York’s Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) industry, with development of a 50-mile flight traffic management system between Syracuse and Rome, which supports emerging uses of unmanned aircraft systems in key regional industries. The third round of the innovative GENIUS NY competition is also underway, focusing on UAS, cross-connected platforms and other technology-based sectors. In the Finger Lakes, AIM Photonics opened its new Test, Packaging and Assembly (TAP) facility at Eastman Business Park that will further develop the photonics integrated circuit industry in Rochester, and Governor Cuomo announced the ROC the Riverway initiative, which will transform the Genesee River waterfront into a vibrant attraction for commerce, recreation and tourism. In the Southern Tier, kitchenware products maker and distributor Corelle Brands LLC is moving forward with a $50 million modernization project at its manufacturing facility in Corning, Steuben County. DICK’s Sporting Goods also opened a new distribution hub in Broome County last year and announced it will construct a new eCommerce fulfillment center at the Conklin site.
Modernizing and improving our foundations and structures is vital to enhancing New York’s competitiveness in the 21st century economy. With Governor Cuomo’s $100+ billion investment in infrastructure, we’re transforming rail stations and airports into world-class transportation hubs of tomorrow. Progress continues on the Moynihan Train Hall at New York City’s Pennsylvania Station with more than 50,000 people using the new West End Concourse daily and other construction milestones met in 2018. Construction also continues at the $1.5 billion expansion of Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, which is expected to generate $393 million in new annual economic activity, reduce traffic congestion and increase operations efficiency to allow for new and expanded events. Passenger traffic is up by more than 100 percent at Stewart International Airport in the Hudson Valley’s Orange County, with plans for a 20,000-square-foot U.S. customs inspection station to accommodate growth and other transformational plans for Long Island’s Republic Airport, among other projects.
The $100 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), launched in 2016, challenges community leaders across the state’s 10 regions to develop a strategic plan for transforming their local downtown areas into vibrant destinations for jobs, tourism, culture and living. In each round, $10 million goes to communities with the most successful visions of invigorating their urban centers. Round Three winning communities – and Round Two winning projects – were announced in 2018. Round One project winners have begun implementing their projects, from waterfront parks and public greenspaces to improved streetscapes, arts centers and incubators.
Western New York’s booming resurgence gained momentum in 2018, thanks to $1.5 billion in Buffalo Billion investments aimed at creating new jobs, spurring large-scale private investment and increasing economic activity. The transformation of Buffalo’s waterfront continues with plans to expand public access on nearly 150 acres of land on the Outer Harbor. The Northland Workforce Training Center, the centerpiece of the Buffalo Billion’s workforce development strategy, opened in September to educate the next generation of highly-skilled workers for careers in the advanced manufacturing and energy industries. The legacy of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright will be preserved in Erie County with the completion of the Graycliff Estate and Darwin Martin House Complex renovation projects in 2018. Last year’s fifth round of the 43North startup competition, which draws entrepreneurs from around the world, awarded a total of $5 million to a group of cutting-edge, start-ups that will incubate their innovative businesses in Buffalo.
Visitors continued to flock to New York State’s many beautiful and awe-inspiring destinations in 2018, setting record-breaking numbers for tourism, the state’s third-largest industry and third-fastest growing job sector. In 2018, New York State announced new records including: 243.8 million visitors and a statewide economic impact topping $108 billion, the highest in the state’s history. New York’s world-class tourism industry is a key catalyst for statewide economic growth and we continue to promote awareness of New York as a tourism destination and inspire and encourage visitation to the state’s 11 vacation regions.
Access to high-speed internet is necessary to succeed in the 21st century economy, and the New NY Broadband Program continued its commitment to expanding broadband access for all New Yorkers in 2018, with the announcement of Round III awards. Since its 2015 launch, the program has driven a total of $728 million in public-private broadband investment, in 256,819 locations across the state.
New York State’s investment in life science is supporting growth of a world-class life science research cluster, with incubators for innovation, public-private partnerships and recruitment of top talent. Highlights from 2018 include Regeneron’s announcement to invest approximately $800 million over the next seven years at the biotech company’s Rensselaer County campus, life science startups incubation through JLABS@NYC and creation of the Empire Discovery Institute to fast-track translation of academic research.
We continue to support small businesses, through services and programs that provide financial, entrepreneurial and technology assistance—from access to world-class R&D capabilities to equity investment capital for early-stage, tech-based businesses. And New York State leads the nation in setting utilization goals for minority and women-owned businesses in state contracts. In 2018, New York State reached a 28.62 percent MWBE utilization rate—the nation’s highest—and, at nearly 29 percent, approaching the Governor’s nation-leading goal of 30 percent.
Thanks to our comprehensive economic development strategy, 2018 was a year of continued growth in New York State. We’re working with local communities to revitalize infrastructure and downtowns, set record-breaking tourism and private sector job numbers, and spur innovation and expand broadband access to the most remote areas of the state. The positive effects are felt in every corner of our 10 regions as we build a better state of opportunity for all New Yorkers.
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