BOLTON LANDING – Governor Kathy Hochul said on Friday she would continue competitive grant programs that have sent billions of dollars in economic development from the state to communities, and would even seek to expand them.
Their competitive nature has been criticized, but Hochul told the Business Council of New York State’s annual meeting that they are producing results.
“My priorities will be to continue the economic development initiatives that have been so successful – downtown revitalization, regional economic development councils,” she said. “I have seen the transformation of abandoned city centers for the lost. I believe in these programs and actually wanted to increase funding for these specific programs. “
Hochul also wants to increase funding for workforce development and said other priorities are investments in child care, education and health care.
All are part of a vibrant economy and business community, she explained: Businesses need qualified candidates and working mothers need child care options.
The Downtown Revitalization Initiative and Regional Economic Development Councils are two of the largest ways the state supports business projects and the public infrastructure that supports them.
They were suspended in 2020, amid financial constraints and disruption from the COVID pandemic, but they are back in 2021. As Lt. Gov. Hochul chaired for nearly seven years the REDC program, which divides l ‘State in 10 economic development zones, each with its own council judging funding requests.
In the last annual round of REDC, the Capital Region received $ 84.1 million in grant commitments.
Meanwhile, in the first four rounds of the DRI program, Albany, Amsterdam, Glens Falls, Hudson and Schenectady each received the $ 10 million prize. In the 2021 edition, one city in each region will receive $ 20 million or two will receive $ 10 million each.
Hochul added that while she likes the current REDC model, she is not attached to it.
“I want to hear from the business world,” she said, on what works, doesn’t work, or could work better.
The 2021 annual meeting of the Business Council was organized against the lingering effects of the COVID pandemic.
The infection rate in New York City has dropped significantly and the economic shutdown ended over a year ago, but business has not returned to normal.
Many people still work remotely, parts and finished products can be expensive or hard to find, and some people have simply given up on the workforce.
Hochul acknowledged the lingering challenges but set an encouraging rallying tone in his remarks.
“You are going to be part of explosive growth in the future,” she told her audience, many of whom were business leaders. “I have never felt more optimistic about New York State than here, right now.”
She said her COVID vaccine warrants, which could force thousands of people to quit their jobs as early as Monday and potentially limit medical care in the state, are a necessary step to protect the state’s economy from a another serious wave of the pandemic.
“I never want to unplug this economy under my watch,” she said. “We can fight this dynamic, which is happening in other parts of the world.”
Hochul’s other messages to the business community included:
- The State will continue its efforts to modernize its airports
- The proposed federal infrastructure spending program, if passed, will be of tremendous benefit to New York.
- Business leaders should partner with university leaders to better shape education programs to train the workers their industries need.
- She started the process of creating legal frameworks for the recreational marijuana and sports betting industry, which were approved by the state legislature but did not move forward under the Cuomo administration.
- His administration has started paying federal rent assistance to landlords, another initiative that has made little progress in the troubled final months of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s tenure.
- Asked by Business Council President Heather Briccetti if the Buffalo Bills would stay in the Buffalo area – owners hinted at a departure if they don’t get help paying for a new $ 1.5 billion stadium of dollars – Hochul did not hesitate: “They are safe as hell are.
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