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Cuomo: Economic development projects will continue despite recent criminal convictions

Ellen Abbott
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (right) and his economic chief Howard Zemsky

The Cuomo Administration said it will continue its economic development strategy, despite recent criminal convictions connected to some upstate projects and an uptick in criticism about the policies.

Cuomo said the state has run 9,000 economic development projects under his watch, many meant to reverse upstate New York’s economic malaise. But the strategy of pumping state money into projects has come under fire, especially after two high profile court cases ended recently with bribery and bid rigging convictions connected to upstate projects. 

Cuomo's opponents in this year's race for governor are piling on, calling the programs everything from "failing and bloated" to "flawed public policy."

Despite the drumbeat, Cuomo said the projects have put the upstate economy on an upswing, and he says Albany has made changes, taking many of these projects out of the purview of the SUNY Polytechnic Institute.

"We have changed that organizationally. They no longer have that responsibility.  It’s now done by the Economic Development Corporation," Cuomo said. "We brought in professionals to redesign the system. They’ve designed a new system of accountability and we’ve implemented that."

So the strategy of pumping millions of dollars into individual projects, including construction of facilities for private business partners, will continue, according to Empire State Development Corporation Chairman Howard Zemsky. He said the strategy has worked, pointing specifically to nanotechnology success in Albany. 

"We have to be willing to make some extraordinary investments to literally change the trajectory, long term, of the economy."

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