COLUMN: Economic development plans fall short of fixing state’s real problems

— The Governor has set forth his Economic Development plan in his proposed 2013 budget. While there are some ideas that I can support, overall our state would benefit from policies that are fair to all businesses. We should focus on cutting red tape and costly burdens and leave more control up to the Industrial Development Agencies to create jobs.

The Governor proposes to include funding again for 10 Regional Economic Development Councils to compete for a third round of grants ($220 million). He proposes “Innovation Hot Spots,” which would designate 10 high-tech innovation incubators at higher ed institutions. These hot spots will be tax free zones, where start-ups and other businesses connected to the incubators will be exempt from business and sales tax for five years. He proposes a venture capital fund ($50 million) to provide seed funding to technology and research into the marketplace. Buffalo will see an additional $100 million as part of the Governor’s 10-year $1 billion commitment to the region and an additional $60 million to help keep the Buffalo Bills in Western New York.

As part of what’s being called “Market NY,” the Governor proposes to build three casinos in Upstate New York and create “Taste NY” – a program designed to market agricultural goods grown and produced in New York. Taste NY would also create “duty free” stores around the state. He also proposes to set aside $5 million for an advertising competition among counties to encourage regional marketing plans.

What these plans lack are initiatives that would benefit all businesses. They also take more control away from localities. While I support the partnership our higher ed institutions can have with private business, Innovation Hot Spots will only benefit those who fall within certain parameters. Regional councils can only provide grants to a select few as well. While the grants might be a boon to one business, the award process is subjective and leaves other job creators out of the equation.

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