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By Mike Desmond

June 20, 2011

BUFFALO, NY - An estimate is that New York spends $8 billion a year in various economic development subsidies, like hotels in Western New York and giant baseball stadiums in New York City.

"We really don't have much economic development policy that's designed at restoring neighborhoods," said Sam Magavern, co-director of the Partnership for the Public Good, during a public forum yesterday.

The forum was held just after Governor Cuomo announced his latest plans for ten regional economic development councils, one in Western New York.

It's not clear how the councils will mesh with industrial development agencies like the nine in Erie and Niagara Counties.

"The IDA's, unfortunately, keep subsidizing new builds out in the suburbs," Magavern said.

Magavern says there isn't enough attention to rehab and renovation in city neighborhoods instead of suburban hotels and doctors offices.

Saying there's a need for more "accountability and transparency" among IDA's, Coalition for Economic Justice Director Alison Duwe said she hopes "the regional councils don't add another layer of complicated bureaucracy to what is currently a very messy economic development landscape."

Bettina Damiani from New York City's "Good Jobs New York" says the situation is different there because there is only one IDA but vast amounts of public money go into projects like new baseball stadiums for the New York Yankees and the New York Mets.

Damiani says there are a lot of projects in New York City which involve moving jobs out of a community to replace them with cleaner white-collar jobs.

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