Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration is ramping up its economic development efforts with a $1 billion pot of money. New York City will compete for some of that even though it already draws on an even larger local pool of cash and incentives.
Which begs the question: how will the state’s new efforts dovetail with the city’s already established economic development strategy?
“It’s really not that big of a pot of money,” said one Bloomberg administration source. “But we could certainly make use of it.”
Even the Cuomo administration admits the city is a unique case. Kenneth Adams, president and CEO of the Empire State Development Corporation, said the city’s regional council will help prioritize projects and build consensus among business leaders, higher education, city officials, nonprofits and labor.
“It’s not so much that we need a lot of new planning in a place like New York City,” said Adams, who is the former head of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and the New York State Business Council. “But we do need people to come together and set priorities for the allocation of limited state resources.”
The city’s regional economic development council, announced by Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy in a speech at City Tech in Brooklyn last Friday, will compete with nine other councils across the state for $1 billion in state monies to pay for projects to spur job growth.
The regional council competing for state funds will be co-chaired by CUNY President Matthew Goldstein and American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault, and will include business leaders, advocates, labor representatives, higher education officials and non-profit heads. Deputy Mayor Robert Steel, who will represent the Bloomberg administration on the council, said the effort will help better focus the state and the city’s job growth strategy.
“I’m glad to represent Mayor Bloomberg on the New York City Council and look forward to working with our partners in Albany to identify the high-impact investments that we can make to create jobs and get New Yorkers back to work,” Steel said in a statement.
New York City’s own Economic Development Corporation already leverages billions in taxpayer dollars for dozens of development projects across the five boroughs, while providing tax breaks and low-cost financing for private businesses.
The city views the regional council as a way to better coordinate projects that use both city and state funds, like the developments underway at Moynihan Station, Governors Island and the Jacob Javits Center. Likewise, city projects that don’t use state money, but need approval from a state agency like the Department of Environmental Conservation, would benefit from additional coordination.
That said, the amount of money offered up for the competition is not much in the scope of the city’s economic development strategy.
“It’s certainly not going to hurt,” said one Bloomberg administration insider. “For a long time development wasn’t getting a lot of attention at the state level. The billion dollars is really just to unify all the grants, and that’s fine.”
Outside the halls of government, however, some are skeptical of how the city and state plans will work together in practice.
“It’s always been an issue to try and get real cooperation between the city and state on economic development,” said James Parrott, chief economist at the Fiscal Policy Institute. “The regional councils aren’t going to make that go away. That tension is always going to be there. And it’s going to be greater if you have a state effort that’s more meaningful and trying to make a difference in a more concerted way than in the past.” Read the full post at City Hall News.