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Cuomo outlines ways to help revitilize upstate New York

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ALBANY — During his third State of the State address, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo outlined plans to bring economic growth to upstate New York.

Citing “decades of decline in upstate New York,” Mr. Cuomo outlined several plans to revitalize the region.

“Upstate New York needs more investment,” Mr. Cuomo said, adding, “Economic development is the engine that drives the state.”

In particular the Governor called for the development of “innovation hot spots” across upstate New York that train students for high tech jobs and pair private industry with public universities for research and development.

“There are 210,000 unfilled jobs in New York because companies can’t find workers with the skills they need,” Mr. Cuomo said.

“When you look at the job growth in upstate New York, frankly, it is sad and it is troubling,” he added.

Mr. Cuomo said the region has been falling behind national and statewide standards for job growth over the last decade.

Over the past ten years upstate New York has seen a job growth rate of 5 percent while the state as a while as seen a job growth rate of 11 percent. New York City has seen a growth rate of 16 percent on its own and the nation has maintained a 9 percent rate.

“The nation’s growth lead upstate’s growth,” Mr. Cuomo said, “That is just unacceptable.”

“We need to pay specific attention to give additional resources to those who are truly in need,” said Senator Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome. “The statistics show that [upstate is in need.]”

Mr. Cuomo said ten higher education centers will be chosen to become “innovation hot spots” and will become tax-free zones where “start-ups will not be subject to business, real property and sales taxes.”

“I think that we stand to be very successful in attracting one of these hot spots,” Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, said of the north country.

“That’s something that I will be looking to work with the Governor on to identify potential partners within the north country region,” Mrs. Russell added.

The Governor also proposed a plan titled “Market NY” that will focus on marketing the region’s natural beauty and produce.

“If they see upstate New York they will come back – but we need to make that introduction,” Mr. Cuomo said.

The “Taste NY” program will “aggressively market” the state’s wine, beer and yogurt.

“We will create duty-free stores,” Mr. Cuomo said, “all across the state to promote New York grown and produced products.”

“I’m excited to join with the Governor in promoting products that are unique to New York—specifically, Upstate New York,” Senator Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, said in an email statement.

Mrs. Russell also cheered the Governor’s efforts to promote local products.

In coordination with legislation clearing red tape from producers, Mrs. Russel said the Mr. Cuomo’s proposals “could help us unlock the productive capacity of upstate New York.”

Mr. Cuomo said there will also be a more concerted effort to market the state’s regional attractions.

Under the current model the state funds county tourism boards but Mr. Cuomo said this has fostered unhealthy competition between them.

“We want counties being part of regions and developing regional synergy. We will have a competition among regions that will actually bring the counties together to come up with a coordinated marketing plan to develop and market those assets in those regions,” Mr. Cuomo said.

A $5 million advertising incentive will be added for the best regional marketing plan.

Mr. Cuomo also again asserted his support for a constitutional amendment enabling the establishment of full fledged casinos across the state.

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