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Study questions worth of state incentives going to major corporations

Although the Cuomo administration awarded $82.8 million to local economic development projects on Wednesday, the Capital Region has been losing out to other areas of upstate in the race for business subsidies.

The $82.8 million was part of Cuomo's regional economic development council awards, which totaled $715.9 million and were spread out among 10 regions across the state.

But a good-government group called the Alliance for Greater New York questions whether the state business subsidy programs are too unwieldy and whether they are worth the expense.

"It's easy to be swept up in the excitement of awards and announcements about new funding, but New Yorkers should remember that these are their tax dollars," said Tomas Garduno, political director of the alliance, based in New York City. "We need to look just as carefully at the outcomes... and whether our communities are getting a good return on our investment."

A report published Monday by the group found large corporations have become very good at tapping state subsidy programs. As a result, most of the subsidies flow to less than 5 percent of the businesses in the state.

An alliance report earlier this year also showed the regional economic development council process, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo created to make the subsidy process more merit-based and less based on politics, accounts for less than 10 percent of the $7 billion in subsidies going to businesses annually through state programs and industrial development agencies.

In research the alliance conducted on subsidies programs across the state, it found that Capital Region businesses have had middle-of-the-road success. For instance, there are 2,173 economic development projects receiving subsidies in the Capital Region, while the Buffalo area has 3,861. And Syracuse, Rochester and the Mid-Hudson region, where Poughkeepsie is located, also have more subsidized projects compared to the Capital Region.

The subsidy dollar amounts are also larger in those regions as well when both grants and tax breaks are examined, the alliance report found.


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