Sunday, September 23, 2007

The NY Times bolsters the case for our "One Long Island Project" ...

... now if we could only get them to read the Long Island Idea Factory!

The City

Why New York Stagnates

Imagine, for a moment, that you are a business executive thinking about moving your company — an upscale, high-tech company — to New York or maybe Connecticut or perhaps California. After a little research, you find out that most of New York’s system for encouraging new businesses is based on one thing: political pork.

There is no workable economic development plan for the whole state. Instead, businesses are forced to beg for a hodgepodge of handouts, each of which depends less on what the companies have to offer in terms of jobs or revenue than on which bigwigs they know in Albany. Suddenly, Massachusetts and North Carolina and Texas begin to look better and better and better.

For all the bellowing in Albany about the need for more jobs, the noisemakers themselves are a big part of the problem, handing out inducements like favors at a political gala. The net result is to reinforce the political status quo.

That New York does not have a statewide economic strategy is a disgrace. A few haphazard attempts to “help business” don’t really help the economy, and taxpayers should be in full revolt about the tons of money that has been parceled out — for Empire Zones and other economic boondoggles — with not enough new jobs to show for it.

Some business groups have argued that New York loses these jobs because of its taxes, but a report from A. T. Kearney earlier this year concluded that the real problem is the state’s herky-jerky system for bringing in new businesses.

One bright spot in this grim statewide picture is nanotechnology. With tons of state money, and a push from former Gov. George Pataki, the Albany area is fast becoming one of the more important nanotechnology locations in the world. But attempts to clone the Albany project have not gone well elsewhere.

The idea is to use a top-flight educational institution — the Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute, for instance — and find a business partner like I.B.M. to help pay the cost of creating such a complex. New York’s universities are spread across the state, offering the possibility that other research centers could be created to provide jobs and economic health. State financing and tax breaks are important, but they will not really work if there is no strong business partner.

The Kearney report notes that between 1990 and 2005, New York State lost higher-paying jobs in manufacturing, financial services and other areas. Over the same period, the state gained lower-paying jobs in education, health services and professional services. New York needs to keep those jobs, even the lower-paying ones, and add more higher-paying jobs.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Joseph Bruno, the State Senate leader, have been hissing mad at each other for months, even as the jobs wander off elsewhere. Time to get a grip, fellows. For the sake of all New Yorkers, Albany’s leaders need to grit their teeth and sit down together and start forming a genuine long-range economic plan that focuses more on bringing in new jobs than preserving their own.

No comments: