Senator Stavisky Seeks to Reform Economic Development Programs
Senator Stavisky (D-Flushing) joined fellow Senate colleagues today in proposing an Economic Development Plan that strengthens and reforms a number of existing programs and takes a new regional-based approach to job creation.
Senator Stavisky said although the Pataki Administration has provided $30 billion in business tax breaks since 1995, job creation in New York has been absolutely abysmal. "We need to develop a regional-based plan and reform Industrial Development Agencies and the state’s Empire Zone program in order to seriously address the economic needs of all our communities," she said.
Senator Stavisky said the Senate Minority proposal would create 10 regional One-Stop Shop economic development centers in every region of the State to help small businesses with the technical assistance they need. The One-Stop Shops would centralize and improve access to information about federal, state and local economic programs,providing businesses with materials on everything from obtaining start-up funding to providing employees with low-cost health insurance.
The Queens lawmaker added, "Rather than rely on a structure that puts a significant administrative burden on small businesses and pits community against community, our plan streamlines and coordinates the hodgepodge of economic development programs currently available, while providing regional economies with resources, structures and plans."
Senator Stavisky said the Senate Minority plan would create regional economic development planning boards, comprised of representatives from regional businesses, Empire Zone boards, Industrial Development Agencies and Department of Economic Development regional offices.
"One of the major problems with the State’s current economic development model is that even within a given region, we have many different programs run by numerous and often disconnected entities, resulting in a lack of coordination, organization and comprehensive planning," said Senator Stavisky. "Economic development planning should be regionally coordinated and focus both state and local incentives on key industries in each region, rather than place municipalities in competition with each other, weakening the impact of our programs."
Senator Stavisky said another major component to economic development would be to reform the Empire Zones and IDAs. "The Empire Zone Program was originally created to help economically-distressed areas attract new businesses, retain existing ones and create jobs. Unfortunately, the Empire Zone program has strayed off-mission, off-message and off-target."
Senator Stavisky cited an audit by State Comptroller Alan Hevesi as well as several newspaper reports that also show businesses receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of tax breaks and credits, and creating few, if any, jobs in return.
"This practice only shifts the tax burden onto other small businesses outside the Empire Zone and onto working families. Local IDAs also need to be more accountable for job creation and more involved in the regional approach," said Senator Stavisky.
Senator Stavisky noted that she attended hearings last fall in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse. "I could not help but notice the boarded up store fronts and the ‘for sale’ signs on homes. The jobs have left and people cannot afford the high property taxes," she stated.
"The developers who receive government assistance have an obligation to try to provide available jobs to the local workforce," Senator Stavisky said. "As part of the Senate Minority initiative on economic development, this proposal would encourage developers to work with local contractors who are familiar with state and local regulations and to make every effort to invest and hire locally."