Niagara Gazette — Mayor Paul Dyster and City Administrator Donna Owens traveled to Albany to hear Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2013 state of the state address firsthand.
Following the governor’s speech, Dyster said he came away with a feeling that while New York is facing significant challenges — including an expensive recovery from Hurricane Sandy — there are things that have been accomplished under Cuomo that the state can build on moving forward.
“I think the mood in the room was very positive,” Dyster said Wednesday evening. “I think people understood that the governor has some big challenges ahead of him, but there was a lot of discussion about how the business climate in New York is starting to show signs of turning around and a lot of discussion about how the state has been more business friendly and how the regional economic development councils had exceeded expectations. I think the governor was trying to say ‘let’s take pride in our accomplishments, while acknowledging that there is still a lot to work on.”
“The overall thing for me was the reaffirmation that upstate New York still needs help,” Dyster added.
During last year’s state of the state address, Cuomo unveiled plans to offer the so-called “Billion for Buffalo” package which he said would pump $1 billion in economic development support for Buffalo and the Western New York area. He also directed the creation of the so-called regional economic development councils — working groups of officials charged with developing plans for growth in specific regions across the state. The councils compete with one another for economic development funding based on the soundness of their plans.
This year, Dyster said he got a sense that Cuomo remains committed to the effort even though the state is reeling from the impact of a costly cleanup for communities ravaged by Sandy. He said he was also encouraged by several new economic development initiatives for upstate touted by Cuomo, including Market NY, a new effort aimed at better promoting products made in the state and a $5 million advertising competition that will provide additional marketing money to regions that come up with the best campaigns for promoting local assets.