New York State continued to build its leadership in 2016, with Empire State Development, under the guidance of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, focusing on economic development that attracts business, creates jobs and advances infrastructure improvements – all of which are critical to progress. Through an inclusive, regional approach that involves public and private stakeholders from across the state, New York is making strategic investments in innovation, infrastructure and key industries in order to ensure we remain on the path of economic growth and upward mobility for all.
A home is only as good as its foundation and, last year, New York made major investments to strengthen ours. We are making a historic $100 billion investment in infrastructure – in airports, bridges, regional transportation systems, and more – from Buffalo to Long Island, to advance our efforts to build a new New York. That focus has been supplemented by significant investments in our communities through initiatives designed to spur revitalization in downtowns and rejuvenate main streets and urban centers, making Upstate towns and cities more attractive to young people, residents and businesses.
Much of this work wouldn’t be possible without the Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs), which were established by Governor Cuomo in 2011. The 10 REDCs – representing the 10 unique regions throughout New York State – are part of a bottom-up approach to economic development that empowers local stakeholders, including New Yorkers from academia, business, labor, community organizations and more – to develop long-term, strategic plans tailored to their region’s unique strengths and assets in order to create jobs and improve quality of life.
Over the course of six rounds since 2011, the REDCs have guided over $4.6 billion in state resources to more than 5,200 projects, which are supporting the creation and retention of more than 210,000 jobs across the state. This work is being done alongside the successful efforts to get the state’s fiscal house in order and create a better business environment, including: the lowest corporate tax rate since 1968; the lowest manufacturing tax rate since 1917, which includes the elimination of the corporate income tax on all manufacturers; and a record-setting increase in private-sector jobs.
In 2015, Governor Cuomo took a portion of the funds awarded to New York through a major settlement with banking institutions and created the $1.5 billion Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI) competition. The initiative ultimately awarded $500 million each to three regions – Central New York, the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier – to support projects and strategies that will create jobs and economic opportunity. The initiative is already taking shape, with the three regions committing approximately $100 million to dozens of projects in 2016 alone, and driving economic growth across Upstate New York.
New York’s gateways and transportation systems are being reimagined. In 2016, work continued on the new New York Bridge, which will replace the Tappan Zee Bridge – currently one of the busiest in the state and a major gateway to New York City – and is due to open in 2018. A $1.5 billion expansion of the Javits Center in Manhattan, the nation’s busiest convention center, will have a sizable economic impact. Last year marked a milestone for the new Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex – featuring a Moynihan Train Hall and a new Long Island Railroad concourse. And, a new Second Avenue Subway opened on New Year’s Eve.
Construction is underway at the new LaGuardia Airport and a $200 million Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization Competition, building on modernization plans created for LaGuardia and JFK Airports, challenged Upstate airports to detail how they would improve operations while reducing environmental impact. Elmira Corning Regional Airport and Greater Rochester International Airport were selected in the competition’s first round and, in January, the Governor announced second round awards to support the redesign of Upstate airports in Syracuse and Plattsburgh.
Two additional initiatives in 2016 addressed the need to revitalize downtown areas to attract 21st century businesses, jobs and workers. As part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, community leaders were challenged to develop and propose locally tailored strategic plans. Winning proposals nominated by REDCs received $10 million awards for each of 10 communities, allocated over five years.
Round Four of the Restore New York Communities Initiative – which breathes new life into vacant, blighted properties and encourages community development – awarded nearly $40 million to 75 projects statewide. Governor Cuomo recently said, “This funding not only supports the transformation of blighted and abandoned buildings, but it also enables communities to make long-needed infrastructure improvements that are key to economic growth.”
Through those initiatives and others, New York State has continued to focus on the economic growth and revitalization of Western New York, and to build on the success of the Buffalo Billion, with a proposed Phase II $500 million investment that will sustain the progress that’s already been made. Investments in manufacturing, health and life sciences, and tourism have made Buffalo a better place to work, live and play, with an increasing population of millennials and young people who now want to stay in the area. Buffalo-area companies announcing expansions in 2016 included pharmaceutical research leader Athenex, insurance giant GEICO and automaker General Motors.
Tourism and Craft Beverage
The tourism and craft beverage industries are big business in New York State. The number of domestic and international visitors has reached record levels in recent years and, since 2014, the economic impact of tourism has exceeded $100 billion each year – a new record. The industry has been on the rise each year, generating 894,000 jobs and more than $63 billion in direct spending, supporting thousands of jobs in hospitality, transportation and entertainment. In fact, tourism is responsible for one of every 12 jobs in the state. We continue to invest in both marketing and bricks-and-mortar tourism initiatives to ensure future growth.
We’ve also focused on marketing New York State-made food and beverage products through Taste NY, promoting those products at events and new stores in arenas, parks, stadiums and highway welcome centers. Taste NY products nearly tripled sales in 2016, their highest annual sales yet, with total gross sales topping $13.1 million last year.
In the past year, we have continued New York State’s commitment to the craft beverage industry – which is booming due in large part to efforts led by Governor Cuomo – with the modernization of and changes to laws regulating sales, fees and credits. New York is now home to more than 900 wineries, breweries, distilleries, and cideries.
In New York, we understand that innovation is the key to succeeding in today’s global economy. To that end, a few highlights from this past year include: an ongoing commitment to the $500 million New NY Broadband Program – the largest and most ambitious in the nation – and its goal of extending high-speed internet access to every part of the state; year three of 43North, the world’s largest business competition ‒ which is attracting entrepreneurs from around the globe to Buffalo; and GENIUS NY, a business competition in Central New York focused on Unmanned Aerial Systems, data, cross-connected platforms, and other technology-based sectors, which pairs perfectly with a $35 million investment to establish a 50-mile flight traffic management corridor through Central New York and the Mohawk Valley, establishing a research and development epicenter for the UAS industry.
And these are only a few examples of the significant efforts we’re making on the innovation front.
Whether we’re directly incentivizing companies through one of the range of programs available in New York, or investing in infrastructure, tourism, industry or innovation, the economic development initiatives and accomplishments of 2016 have all illustrated that New York State is focusing both on today and the future. Through our inclusive approach and world-renowned public-private partnerships, strategic investments rooted in regional needs and assets. The Empire State is on the right path to creating well-paying jobs, growing the economy, and generating opportunity for all New Yorkers.
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1. Construction on the new LaGuardia Airport began in 2016.
2. The New NY Bridge to replace the Tappan Zee continues to make remarkable progress on the Hudson River.
3. A rendering of the new Greater Rochester International Airport, which was awarded $39.8 million through the Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization Competition