2006-05-12 / Community

Reforming Economic Development Programs

Senator Malcolm Smith joined fel-low Senate Democrats recently to propose an Economic Development Plan that strengthens and reforms a number of existing programs and takes a new regional-based approach to job creation.

According to Senator Smith, 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," he said.

Senator Smith also said the Democratic proposal would create ten 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 Smith said the Democratic 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 Smith. "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 Smith noted that an important part of the Senate Democrats' plan is to focus on creating local jobs and strengthening local economies through the regional-based model.

The introduction of this legislation requires developers who receive state or local assistance to employ local labor resources in the construction of new facilities and infrastructures.

"The developers who receive government assistance have an obligation to try to provide available jobs to the local workforce," Senator Smith said. "As part of the Democratic 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."

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