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Regional Councils present an opportunity that shouldn’t be squandered

Albany, NY—More than 75 leading community and labor organizations from around the state released a letter today calling on Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders to transform the state’s often wasteful and ineffective economic development system into a refocused job-creation program that prioritizes performance standards, accountability and transparency.

The Administration recently funded and is currently working to create a new system of Regional Economic Development Councils, but has provided few details about how the Councils would operate.

The organizations who signed onto the letter are urging the Executive, Senate and Assembly leadership to make a break from previous approaches to economic development when creating the Councils. They are critical of the current system, which relies heavily on corporate tax breaks and has too often failed to deliver tangible benefits for working families and struggling communities.

Allison Duwe, Executive Director of the Buffalo-based Coalition for Economic Justice said, “Our current economic development tools have failed to produce the good jobs our communities need, although they are responsible for over $8 billion in lost revenue through corporate tax breaks last year alone.”

The community and labor leaders laid out their vision for getting better results from publicly-subsidized development efforts. In addition to recommendations that would create better quality jobs, and increase accountability and transparency, they also emphasize that Regional Councils must incorporate a broader range of stakeholders that includes representatives of the communities and workers hardest hit by the economic downturn.

“The new administration has the opportunity to turn a page with its economic development efforts to make them more focused, coordinated and effective,” said Matt Ryan, Executive Director of ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York. “To do that, they must redefine success from simply announcing a business will retain or create jobs in New York to enacting long-term plans to create quality jobs for local residents, build strong communities, and promote a healthy and sustainable environment.”

The letter comes as legislators are returning to Albany after passing the state budget. Regional Councils were the only major jobs initiative that the Cuomo administration proposed to tackle the tough economic climate.

The Getting Our Money’s Worth Coalition is a broad coalition of public policy experts, government watchdogs, labor unions, community and religious organizations, and concerned small business owners, workers and taxpayers. The statewide coalition is anchored by ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York and the Coalition for Economic Justice

Download the Open Letter below