As we appear to have seen a plateau in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in New York -particularly Upstate where we were fortunate to avoid the worst of the outbreak – the attention of many is turning to how we restart our lives and our economy, rebuild the momentum we had going, and provide the strongest long-term opportunities for growth. It’s important to note that while some areas of the State, like the Capital Region and the Mohawk Valley, were seeing growth and expansion in their economies prior to the outbreak, many others were not.
As the UJP has said for years, New York’s approach to economic development is broken – politician’s picking winners and losers in an annual gameshow where the Governor plays Wink Martindale using taxpayer money is not a viable long-term growth strategy. More so, the efforts to prepare for this spectacle takes valuable time and resources away from many of the folks best able to help entrepreneurs and small business owners as they seek to grow their investment and jobs. While some could say that is just the opinion of UJP, the data shows otherwise – more than 1 million New Yorkers have left the State in the last decade.
So, where do we go from here? UJP has long advocated for changing the State’s approach on economic development from one of buying down the cost of bricks and mortar to an ecosystem that encourages investment and makes it easier for innovation economy entrepreneurs to succeed. There are many reasons why this makes sense:
- Many innovation economy jobs don’t typically require massive infrastructure investments of brick and mortar or heavy-duty sewer and gas systems;
- Innovation economy jobs typically drive a higher multiplier effect – according to Berkeley Economist Enrico Moretti, for every one job created in the innovation economy, five support jobs are created;
- Innovation economy jobs take advantage of New York’s robust university system, turning those campuses into talent factories that yield job creators, not just graduates that get on airplane to start their careers;
- As we have seen in the COVID crisis, in the event of a public health outbreak, those jobs that can be done remotely are more often than not retained, rather than subject to furlough or layoff.
There have been a lot of very good ideas shared about how we should restart and grow our economy in the coming months. NYS Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay has forwarded a very logical approach to restarting our economy in his Regional Restart Plan, which you can read here. That plan calls for a regional approach that takes into account public health and includes a variety of business groups to develop guidelines for phased reopening, ongoing social distancing and other preventative measures to avoid a second wave of infections. Our friends at Start Us Up put forward a very smart plan recently that outlines how our economic restart can support entrepreneurial growth by incentivizing lenders to support startups and small businesses, reduce bureaucracy, and provide assistance for short term health care costs while providing greater technical support. You can read more on that plan here.
Next week, UJP will start rolling out our thoughts on policy opportunities the Empire State can take to better position Upstate for long term growth. New York has all the tools to become a tech and innovation economy powerhouse with an economy that works for everyone. It merely needs policy and policymakers willing to make that a reality.