20 July 2006

Where Art Thou, Optimists?

From Business First's survey series:

Local Pessimism

Are Western New Yorkers naturally more pessimistic than other Americans?
Yes, pessimism is ingrained here
No, it's about the same here as everywhere else
No, optimism is the rule here
Don't know

Now, the question is: Is this the truth or the perception? Are the pessimists naturally louder with their opinions? Are the optimists too busy running businesses are getting involved in community efforts to complain?

I do not believe we are pessimists by nature; I believe we are pessimists by life experience. We've witnessed the failure of positive change so often we've defaulted to a rather logical and rational assumption that past performance indicates future results. We shouldn't, but it does make sense.

As (and if) the momentum continues on Buffalo's renaissance, the ratio of pessimism to optimism will begin to change. The granddaddy of all Buffalo repeat let-downs--waterfront development--is on track for actual, funded, bona fide development. If this development actually pans out, it will be the turning point in the optimism and faith-in-Buffalo department. I, for one, am optimistic.

Next on the agenda: create an organzation that takes strategic, pre-emptive action on NIMBYs and BANANAs. That should reduce the pessimism drastically.


29 June 2006

Baby Steps to Privatization

United Parcel Service Inc. has inked a three-year deal with USPS to provide domestic air transportation of primarily First Class and Priority Mail starting July 1. Atlanta-based UPS (NYSE: UPS) at first will provide airlift of First Class and Priority Mail volume each week to and from 98 cities, it said. Financial terms were not disclosed.

These sorts of arrangements aren't new; FedEx has had a similar deal with the USPS for several years. The expansion of this public-private alliance might, however, bring us one step closer to the privatization of the United States Postal Service discussed here and here.


28 June 2006

Office Space

Encouraging results of a Business First Survey. Who says everyone hates the city? The fear and loathing has slipped to 56%

If you could choose any Western New York location for your office, which would you prefer?

Downtown Buffalo

Northtowns (Amherst, Tonawanda, etc.)

Southtowns (Hamburg, Orchard Park, etc.)

Eastern Suburbs (Cheektowaga, Lancaster, etc.)

Rural Erie County

Niagara County (Niagara Falls, Lockport, etc.)

Somewhere else


22 June 2006

The Imminent Death of Open Competition

The Erie County Legislature overrode Erie County Executive Joel Giambra's
veto of a controversial amendment Thursday. The vote means union-trained
apprentices must be placed on specific public sector projects.

Ranzenhofer, a lawyer, predicted the law will be challenged in court.
"There will be years and years of court cases over this legislation," he

Cynthia Locklear, D-West Seneca, called the law "a Trojan horse."
"It isn't what it says it is," she said. "It is a badly written law. There
are better ways to do it."

I haven't had a chance to read the revisions to the law, but I trust Cynthia Locklear on this one. In principle, it is a very bad idea. Like everything else in Erie County, we'll have to wait and see how much damage it ends up doing.

What it does without question is remind us that this legislature votes with a social agenda that has little to do with saving the tax payers in this region money or building up at least the image of Buffalo business-friendliness. True, this law (if it is deemed to be constitutional) will only impact large contracts with the county, but few contracts are smaller than the $250k threshold. Also, and more importantly, these sorts of laws scare business owners. They create a climate of uncertainty in which no business leader wants to operate. Between this and the health insurance bill being tossed around at the state level, business owners across Western New York have to be wondering what sorts of obstacles will be thrown up next.

Read the Buffalo First article here.


Interesting Ideas- Economist Style

Bryan Caplan has some ideas worth thinking about at EconLog. My favorites:

3. Feeling good versus getting results. To a large extent, unselfish voting
is (subconsciously?) motivated by the wish to feel like a wonderful person, not
to actually solve problems.

4. Silly beliefs feel good. People feel better about themselves when
they relax normal intellectual standards and believe what "sounds good." It is
hard to see, for example, how boycotting products made in "sweatshops" helps
poor workers in the Third World, but it is more pleasant to embrace this
confusion than critique it.

And finally, the one with the most relevance to Western New York:

7. Unselfish voters with silly beliefs do a lot of harm. Trying to "help people"
before you understand their problems is usually worse than doing nothing at all.

Print that last one on as many index cards as you can. Stamp them ($.24 will do) and mail one per day to each member of the Erie County Legislature until you run out of cards. Then do it all over again.


21 June 2006

Market failure: Like the unicorn, it doesn’t exist.

To say that something failed means it did not meet a standard that it was
designed to or capable of meeting. For example: “a valve failed to open” or “a
student failed a math test.” The free market refers to a group of people
involved in the voluntary exchange of goods and services. It presupposes that
each individual participates to pursue his or her rational self-interest and
that a government exists to protect individual rights, including property
rights. It’s based on the recognition that everyone can benefit from division of
labor and free trade.

A free market doesn’t guarantee that an individual will act in rational
self-interest—errors are possible—only that he or she is free to do so. If a
person fails to act as such, then it’s the person’s failure, not “market
failure.” A free market can’t be expected to do what’s metaphysically
impossible, such as make everyone equally wealthy regardless of ability and
effort, or turn sloth into gold. If a person expects a bicycle to fly, and it
doesn’t fly, then it’s not a “bicycle failure” but a mind failure.

Read the rest of the Capitalism Mag article here.


13 June 2006

America's Smartest Cities

From Business First:

Which community boasts the highest concentration of brainpower -- and therefore
can claim to be America's smartest big city?

Hint: It ain't Buffalo.

Below are the 10 medium communities that lead the brainpower rankings. Each is
followed by its percentage of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree and the
percentage that didn’t go beyond high school.

Buffalo isn't on that list either. I was prepared to be offended upon finding Buffalo on the list of smartest small cities, but we're not on that list either. In fact, Buffalo is nowhere to be found. Either we really are the Forgotten City or we're just not very bright in these parts. The medium sized city list is short, so I'd like to believe we would have appeared on a more comprehensive list.

Charlotte is #6 on the "Smartest Big Cities" list, and the Buffalo-Charlotte connection need not be spelled out here. Since when is Charlotte a big city anyway?

From today's New York Times:
In almost every place upstate, emigration rates were highest among college
graduates, producing a brain drain, according to separate analyses of census
results for The New York Times by two demographers, William Frey of the Brookings
and Andrew A. Beveridge of Queens
of the City
University of New York
. Among the nation's large metropolitan areas,
Professor Frey said, Buffalo and Rochester had the highest rates of what he
called "bright flight."

I'm one of the few citizens who earned a B.A. and an M.A. and returned to Buffalo. My Bright Flight might yet occur, however.

With the high number of colleges in this area producing degree-holders, we should be located prominently on this list. This isn't news to anyone, of course, but the appearance of this study and the NYTs article on the same day serves as a reminder of the work Western New York has ahead. Invisible in one study, unfortunately prominent in the other.


11 June 2006

Speaking of Tax Incentives...

From Forbes, via Out of Control:

[T]targeted tax incentives don't spur real growth. Quite the contrary.
While across-the-board tax cuts expand economic activity, targeted tax
incentives are inevitably financed at the expense of established businesses.
Today's winner of a targeted tax break is tomorrow's victim of a broad increase
in business taxes. Assuming, that is, that this employer sticks around.

Memphis, Tenn.'s Payment-in-Lieu-of-Tax (Pilot) program is a case in point.
For 18 years Pilot has created property tax holidays (of up to 15 years) for
businesses adding jobs in the city. The cost, as measured by local and state
authorities in the last thorough study (for 2002), was 7.4% of property tax
revenue, or $23 million a year.
What does Memphis get for its $23 million?
According to a study paid for by the city, Pilot created 65,000 jobs between
1988 and 2000. But that claim is tough to reconcile with the city's unemployment
rate. In 1990 the rate equaled the national average. Now, at 7%, it's two points
above the national level. Memphis' poverty rate is 21.5%, twice the national


Bi-Partisan Business Hostility in New York

From the May 11th open letter from the Buffalo Niagara Partnership to George Maziarz (R-Newfane):

On behalf of the 2,500 members of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, I am
writing to express strong opposition to your proposal (A10787/S7391) to force
companies in New York State receiving IDA incentives to pay workers a "living
wage." IDA incentives exist in New York State to try to offset some of the
sting of the largely state-imposed second-highest cost-of-doing-business in the
United States. Mandating a living wage can negate much of the incentive
benefit, and thus adds yet another burden to existing employers here; it also is
just one more reason why new companies won?t locate here.

Partnership agrees that the goal of the public sector, business community and
labor unions should be to attract higher paying jobs for the region - in
fact, that is a mission of our organization. But the answer is not the
living wage political movement, which, added to a long list of other costly
state-mandates, will only encourage more employers to downsize, move away or
shut down operations.

Most independent economists say "living wage
laws" reduce employment opportunities for lower-skilled workers, because
employers will respond by eliminating jobs that do not produce enough profit to
justify the higher wage or by hiring better-qualified workers.

Maziarz continues to blow the myth of republican business-friendliness out of the water. Like county legislators Kennedy, Marinelli, and Holt, Senator Maziarz's intentions are usually somewhat noble "to the people" but misguided. What they all share is a fundamental misunderstanding of how best to solve our economic problems in this region. Maziarz does not normally take the antagonistic "The People" v. "Business" approach to economic policy often taken by the democrats in the county legislature, but intentions aside, a bad idea is a bad idea. It would seem as though a team of economists should be on council to explain these things to lawmakers in New York. New York politics being what it is, we'd end up with state and county lawmakers selecting economists sympathetic to their politics who would give the official Economist Stamp of Approval to ideas such as the apprenticeship law (vetoed Friday), the living wage idea, and the "Walmart" health insurance bill.

Take the necessary steps to create a business-friendly environment and such things as a "living wage" (who decides what's good enough to be considered "living" anyway?) and mandatory health benefits won't be necessary. Western New York residents will have the mobility to change jobs if the conditions within their current employment situation do not meet their life or financial needs. As it stands right now, the notion is that businesses in this area can treat their employees however they please because they know those employees have nowhere else to go. If this is true, it is only because these companies' competition has been driven out of New York by these sorts of proposals in the county and state legislatures.

Chances are good that a healthy number of the businesses left in Western New York are receiving some sort of corporate welfare. As I've said in previous posts, tax incentives would not be needed to keep businesses from moving out of New York if the economic conditions that have driven so many businesses out would change. Add more of these laws to the books, and New York will be dishing out more tax incentives to desperately hold onto the business base we haven't yet lost. There is a direct correlation. Our lawmakers have yet to recognize this.


30 May 2006

Development Friendly New York Supreme Court Justices

We have two State Supreme Court Justices to thank for progress on two Buffalo construction projects: The Uniland project on Delaware and the Seneca Casino.

From Buffalo First:
A judge's ruling has cleared the way for Uniland Development Co. to
re-start construction of its latest downtown Buffalo office building.

State Supreme Court Judge Patrick NeMoyer, late Tuesday afternoon,
ruled that members of the Buffalo Building & Construction Trades Council,
AFL-CIO, could not block workers to the Uniland site, located at 285 Delaware

Union workers had been picketing and preventing non-union crews from
entering the site in protest of Uniland's decision to erect the eight-story,
116,590-square-foot building with non-union workers.

Uniland officials, in a statement issued late Tuesday, said they were
pleased with NeMoyer's ruling.
"The positive court ruling reinforces laws
already in place, and continued enforcement will allow work to resume on the
signature building at 285 Delaware Avenue in a safe and productive environment,"
the statement said. "It is encouraging that private investment and new
development will be allowed to continue in downtown Buffalo."

Score one for progress. Don't you wish you could demand a legal injunction every time someone declined to use your services?

Earlier, State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Makowski was able to see through the dubious county lawsuit attempting to block demolision of the H-O Oats grain elevator on the site of the future Buffalo Creek Casino.

I'm virtually neutral on the casino issue, since I believe that economic neutrality will be the result of a casino in Buffalo. It won't save us and it won't destroy us. The endless parade of attempts to block the casino have been thinly disguised as legitimate legal arguments, when in actuality they're simply poorly disguised ideological attacks on gambling. The truth coming out of Niagara Falls, Detriot, New Orleans, and other cities with casinos is that the casinos do not cause major upheavals in social stability or surrounding businesses, but they also don't contribute much to the economy. They do, however, employ a large number of people who do not have many other options, and that will have a greater impact on the quality of life for Buffalo's low skilled workers than all our charitable organizations combined. Build it.


18 May 2006

Joel Kotkin's Ersatz Urban Renaissance

Development trend spotter and user of hard evidence (undoubtedly a unique trait) Joel Kotkin takes a critical eye to the urban renaissance myth sweeping U.S. cities, including our own:

In virtually every region of the U.S., economic growth has been far more
robust in the suburbs than in the cities. Take Philadelphia, whose "center city"
renaissance has become the stuff of urban legend. Over the past decade, the
city, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, has lost 4.4% of its jobs. In
contrast, the surrounding south Jersey suburbs have gained 23.2%. Even more
disturbing, these job losses in Philadelphia and other urban centers have
included those very fields -- finance, professional business services and
information -- which ostensibly would employ the erstwhile members of Dr.
Florida's "creative class." Since 2002 professional business service jobs in
Philadelphia have dropped 2% and financial services by roughly 8.5%. In
contrast, the south Jersey suburbs have enjoyed an 18.7% jump in professional
business service jobs and a 10% increase in finance employment.

As a result, the gain in an affluent population in center city has
clearly failed to revive the economy of Philly's core. Some estimate that since
1990 the number of jobs downtown has actually dropped as much as 15%. So central
city residents increasingly "reverse commute" to where the jobs are, the
surrounding suburbs.

This certainly doesn't bode well for Buffalo, since the prevailing strategy here has been to build more lofts, open more restaurants, and "class-up" our image in hopes of attracting the hip creative class into, or back to, the city. These actions are changing the makeup of Buffalo's population ever so slightly but so far there is no obvious large-scale white collar job creation or retention. The reverse-commuting Kotkin mentions is very real in Buffalo. Amherst still holds the majority of good white collar jobs sought after by the urban creative class.

Philly is only one example of the urban core successfully rebounding in domestic terms like housing, dining, and entertainment while still hemorrhaging jobs. The growing success of the suburbs (not necessarily our suburbs, mind you) does not imply the failure of the city, however. Both can be prosperous (see Chicago in particular) but it will take a change of perspective from urbanists, politicians, residents, and just about everyone else. "The City" as a concept will continue to fail if we continue to define is as narrowly as it has been defined. The urbanists will tell you that a particular aesthetic standard must be met, in addition to high density, walkability, and mixed use, in order to pass the "city" test. As much as you and I might dislike the idea, perhaps the definition of "urban" needs to change. If you ask an economist--and apparently Joel Kotkin as well--the great majority of people want to live in the suburbs for space, privacy, safety, and school quality. It isn't because they like the looks of cheap strip malls (though the readers of Buffalo Rising might beg to differ). Job creation is a whole different topic, but in terms of urban residential renewal, the above issues can be addressed:

1. Space: Buffalo is a very un-dense city. It is a misperception that city lots are smaller than suburban lots, and it is also wrong to conceptualize downtown as "the city" since it is true that in any American city the majority of urban residential density is outside of the central business district. Most new housing in the suburbs is subdivision style, and those lots are getting smaller and smaller and those neighborhoods are getting denser and denser. They have just as few trees as Buffalo lots, if not less, and are just as inconvenient when it comes to plowing in the winter. Perhaps this is a better selling point than claiming that the city has lofts and trendy restaurants.

2. Privacy: Neighbors are equally noisy and nosey in the city and suburbs. If you drive through any suburban subdivision or even older connector streets, the houses are very close together. It would seem as though the city=loss of privacy argument is based on the assumption that all city housing is apartment or two-family style. There are duplexes all over the suburbs. You simply live next to your neighbor instead of above or below your neighbor. The perception of a lack of single family dwellings in the city is false.

3. & 4. Safety and School Quality: These are two areas every city has been struggling with in recent years. They are very real concerns, and very much in the news lately. With McCarthy Gipson and Byron Brown came the zero tolerance law enforcement policy. If you read early content on this site you'll learn that I support total enforcement of the law. Unenforced laws on the books are to the benefit of no one. However, the success of "zero tolerance" is questionable right now due to the laws and crimes they chose to address or neglect. That is a simple policy implementation issue that can be corrected easily by refocusing efforts away from parking tickets and toward violent crime and property damage--the things suburbanites are concerned about when they mention safety.

Buffalo Schools Superintendent Williams jumped headlong into solving the problems plaguing Buffalo public schools. It is going to take some time and the support of the community, but you certainly cannot accuse the man of being disengaged. He has made himself very visible and very accessible. He supports charter schools, which just might be the kind of "crazy experiment" that solves the issues facing public education, and he's shown himself willing to take on the teachers union, which has shown itself to be thoroughly afraid of innovation of any sort.

"The City" can offer residents what they need whether the jobs return to America's urban cores or continue to move to the suburbs. "Reverse commuting" shouldn't be viewed as a negative; outbound commuting will need to be accepted into the definition of "commute" alongside inbound commuting. Mobility and sprawl are here to stay. There will come a point when population, retail, and business balance out across the cities and their suburbs, and the concepts of urban and suburban will become substantively irrelevant. That loss of distinction scares a lot of people, but if urban cores are to remain relevant at all, they need to succumb to economic reality and a broadened definition. If Buffalo and other cities continue to cling to a concept of the urban attractive to no more than 15 percent of the population, our cities will see a real manifestation of the king of all myths- rich and poor with no discernable middle class.

Not all of what Joel Kotkin discusses is relevant to Buffalo's particular situation, but lessons can be learned nonetheless:

The evidence we have today should suggest that a different approach may be
in order. Instead of luring the "hip and cool" with high-end amenities, cities
need instead to address issues that concern businesses as well as working- and
middle-class families. These include such basic needs as public safety,
maintenance of parks, improving public schools, cutting taxes, regulatory reform
-- in other words, all those decidedly unsexy things that contribute to
maintaining a job base and the hope for upward mobility.

Given the growing challenge posed by the emerging boomtowns as well as
the suburbs and exurbs, wannabe "hip cool" cities need to realize they can't
thrive merely as amusement parks for the rich, the nomadic young and tourists.
To remain both vital and economically relevant, they must remain anchored by a
large middle class, and by families and businesses that feel safe and committed
to the urban place.

Don't we know it.
(HT to Out of Control.)


16 May 2006

Hydro-Air: Lessons Learned

From Business First:

Components Inc.
has turned down an incentive offer from North Carolina and
will remain in Western New York.
Company officials confirmed Monday that the
manufacturer will move from two locations in Hamburg into a 152,700-square-foot
building it will erect in a former Brownfield site being redeveloped in South

Construction on the $10 million project is expected to
begin in July and be completed by the first quarter of 2007. Hydro-Air, nearly a
quarter-century old, will be eligible for a state grant of $1.2 million and
another $1.61 million in Empire Zone benefits.

This is certainly good news for everyone involved (except Hamburg) and is an economic success story for Buffalo worth touting for some time to come. WIVB reported yesterday (link unavailable) that the Charlotte, NC area economic incentive offered to Hydro-Air was actually larger than what New York was offering, but company officials decided to stay out of loyalty to the Buffalo region.

Hydro-Air should be viewed as a solid case study on Western New York business development for the following reasons:

1. Buffalo Niagara Enterprise is proving its under-appreciated value to WNY

Michael Licata, senior business development representative for the Buffalo
Niagara Enterprise, said of the potential move: "From day one, it was a very
legitimate concern." The BNE helped identify incentives and local sites
available to Hydro-Air during efforts to keep the company here, he said.

Buffalo Niagara Enterprise deserves more credit than it receives for its service to our region. In this and other situations, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise identifies the problem and works with businesses on developing and implementing a solution--just in time for our political leaders to swoop in and take the credit along with more than their fair share of the media coverage. Mayor Brown’s involvement in this has been marginal at best, and even Brian Higgins seems to have played a peripheral supporting role. Buffalo Niagara Enterprise did the manual labor, and they deserve the ticker tape parade.

2. Local companies are looking for reasons to stay
Hydro-Air is a good example of the fact that many companies considering relocation away from New York are doing so in the interest of remaining solvent, and would prefer to stay in Buffalo. North Carolina hasn’t stolen (or almost stolen, in this case) our businesses and residents because of the better weather climate. The business climate in Southern and Western states is famously more comfortable than ours. It is no secret that New York is plagued with high business, income, and property taxes, labor union politics, expensive worker’s compensation, lack of political will to create adequate infrastructure, and State level politics embracing a “profit-is-immoral” philosophy.

Despite all of that, however, businesses want to be here and residents want to be here. The citizens of Buffalo exhibit unmatched hometown pride and loyalty to this region, but that can only continue if you have a job and your employer can make it work here. Hydro-Air should be commended for their smart behavior in seeking out and taking advantage of this opportunity.

3. Empire Zone incentives and Empire State Development Corp. involvement imply a pre-existing business-hostile environment

Local and state economic development officials said they took seriously the
threat of Hydro-Air moving out of state. They assembled an incentive package
that includes making the company eligible for up to $1.6 million in Empire Zone
benefits. Hydro-Air can apply for brownfield tax credits, as well as a capital
grant from Empire State Development worth up to $1.2 million to assist with
construction of its plant.

Tim Doolittle, regional director for
Empire State Development, said the size of the incentive package was crucial to
retaining Hydro-Air. The project also paves the way for reclaiming brownfields
in Buffalo, he said.

See my “NY Loves Business?” post for my thoughts on the necessity for Empire State Development. These sorts of incentive packages would not be necessary if (Western) New York’s economic climate weren’t so hostile. All things considered, however, we should be grateful for these incentives within the current context, but we should also actively be working toward their obsolescence.

4. Brownfield redevelopment tax credits work
This is the third time in less than a year that a major Brownfield Redevelopment has become reality. (See Blue Cross at Gasworks and Cobey Inc. at Lakeside Commerce Park.) Land that would otherwise sit vacant and polluted is being cleaned up and reborn. Companies that might otherwise relocated from the Buffalo region are being given a reason to stay in a business environment that can often be disadvantageous. This program is certainly one of the bigger successes in New York redevelopment history, and a good example of an acceptable tax credit or benefit. We do not have the sort of real estate crunch that exists Downstate, therefore there would otherwise be no incentive for businesses to seek out brownfield sites and they would continue to sit vacant and polluted.

Finally, the successful retention of Hydro-Air is a much-needed shot in the arm to Buffalo’s psyche. Yes we can get things done here, just ignore the Bass Pro situation for the time being. Charlotte, NC lost this round. We can only hope we’ll have many more wins in the near future.


So That's Why James Williams is Doing a Good Job

In positioning himself as an instigator who can provoke the community to
action, Williams has fashioned himself after an unlikely role model: former Rep.
Newt Gingrich, speaker of the House when Bill Clinton was president, and
co-author of the Republican party's "Contract With America."

"Newt Gingrich raised the issues, and this country started reacting.
And by him raising the issues, he made Bill Clinton a great president," Williams
says, suggesting that by stirring up debate and raising questions, he can make
this community great, or at least considerably healthier than it has been for
some time.

Gingrich also acted as a competitive counterweight to Clinton, as Williams has become to Rumore and the teachers union. Williams has so far been successful at raising issues, providing an alternative vision to Rumore's for the future of the Buffalo Public School system, and supports charter schools and other innovative solutions to public education problems. Williams also is proving that a lot can be accomplished in a few short months of service. Many of us are still waiting for Mayor Brown to prove the same point.


14 May 2006

NY Loves Business?

From New York State's website:

New York State is the Pro-Business, Pro-Growth State

As the world’s eleventh largest economy, New York State is
headquarters for scores of companies and a place where businesses of all sizes
can tap a diversely talented and experienced workforce along with other
resources available in many communities.

With such a wealth of opportunity, we’ve created the ideal business
climate for companies of all types – including new and emerging industries – to
thrive in New York. We are proud of our pro-business environment and our
highly competitive economic incentives.

There also are programs that make starting a business easier and that
can save precious time. One of them is Build Now-NY, which is
pre-permitting dozens of sites across the state and turning business prospects
into clients. With Build Now-NY, the permit to start construction has
already been issued, establishing locations as shovel-ready before a potential
owner ever walks onto the site.

For businesses that want to be up and running as soon as possible,
there is assurance in knowing that an area is immediately available to
them. This positive approach toward a growing business community has
proven to be successful. Since its inception in 1998, the program has
resulted in $600 million in new capital investment, 2.5 million square feet of
developed space and 5,000 new or retained jobs.

I encourage you to explore all the business possibilities that New York
has to offer -- the sites are ready to build now in New York!

Very truly yours,

George E. Pataki
GovernorState of New York

Hey George- tell them about Upstate. Notice how shovel ready sites are the only item for which the horn toots. Many of the regulatory and tax problems facing businesses in New York State can be blamed on the counties, but the costliest ones are purely State issued.

"We are proud of our pro-business environment and our highly competitive economic incentives." I never thought I'd read a statement like that in reference to New York. Unfortunately, not a single word of it can be supported with evidence.

The fact is, offering shovel ready sites and providing subsidies to a very small number of pet projects--many of which are dubious in nature (see the Atlantic Yards fiasco in Brooklyn)--does not imply or equate to a business friendly environment. New York City is successful for reasons other than the State's "business friendliness," and the biggest flops and fiascos going on in NYC (Ground Zero development, Atlantic Yards) have the State's hand firmly implanted in the project. Upstate is self explanatory.

Here's the copy from a different NY Loves Business page at the site, with the same headline:

Companies from across the State, across the nation and around the world are
expanding their operations and investing their futures in New York. The business
community's renewed confidence in New York is real proof of our strengthened
economy and pro-business, pro-growth commitment. Our policies of cutting taxes,
controlling spending and eliminating red tape are working.

In just seven years, we have created an exceptional business climate
that is making a positive impact on business location and expansion decisions.
These and other major strides will continue. I remain committed to pursuing the
policies that have transformed New York into a national leader in creating
business opportunities and jobs. We invite you to choose the great Empire State
and watch your company prosper!

It is true that Pataki's hands are often tied since he's not the one writing the regulations and tax code that affect business in New York. He's also in the unfortunate position of being our state's official spokesperson, which puts considerable pressure on his staff to create messages that paint New York as a good place to do business while excusing him from responsibility for New York's world renowned shortcomings. Notwithstanding, these constaints do not excuse Pataki or his staff from the obligation to accuracy and the burden of supporting evidence. The best thing you can do in support of business, New York, is to get out of the way.


Register Your Vote

From Business First's Business Pulse Surveys:

What's the biggest reason why New York's taxes remain so high?

New York has greater needs than other states do
New York offers better services than other states do
The governor and state legislature don't monitor spending
Special-interest groups rule the state
Voters demand extra services that they don't like paying for
Some other reason
Don't know


Take the survey here.