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 cited several plans to revitalize the region.
Upstate New York needs more investment, Mr. Cuomo said. 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 cant 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 said.
Over the past 10 years, upstate New York has seen a job growth rate of 5 percent while the state as a whole has seen job growth 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 nations growth leads upstates growth, Mr. Cuomo said, That is just unacceptable.
North country state legislators were cheered by the message.
We need to pay specific attention to give additional resources to those who are truly in need, said state Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome. The statistics show that upstate is in need.
Mr. Cuomo said 10 higher education centers will be chosen to become innovation hot spots and will become tax-free zones where startups 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, said Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa. Thats something that I will be looking to work with the governor on to identify potential partners within the north country region.
The governor also proposed a plan titled Market NY that will focus on marketing the regions 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 states 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.
Im excited to join with the governor in promoting products that are unique to New York specifically upstate New York, state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, said in an email statement.
Mrs. Russell also cheered the governors efforts to promote local products.
In coordination with legislation clearing red tape from producers, Mrs. Russell said, Mr. Cuomos proposals could help us unlock the productive capacity of upstate New York.
Mr. Cuomo said there also will be a more concerted effort to market the states regional attractions. Under the existing 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.