By Roland Li
For Kenneth Adams, president, CEO and commissioner of Empire State Development, New York State’s economic development agency, the key to moving forward is collaboration.
In a speech last Wednesday, sponsored by the New York Building Congress and Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Adams gave an overview of 10 of the agency’s projects, which are heavily dependent on a union between the state and other entities.
“The only way these projects happen are public-private partnerships,” he said.
At Niagara Falls, a subsidiary of the agency is overseeing a $12 million project with Niagara County Community College’s culinary school, which will open a new campus. At Queens West, the agency is preparing ferry service and the second stage of development, with 32,000 units of housing and a branch of the Queens Public Library.
“There’s a vibrant, rejuvenated waterfront,” said Adams.
At the World Trade Center, the Empire State Development Corporation has been involved in the 8,000 s/f memorial plaza, through the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, along with the Port Authority. Near the Erie Canal, a 23-acre site will be redeveloped with $150 million in public financing. Design work and below grade work at Moynihan Station, is also ongoing.
In a separate program, NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program, the corporation is allocating grant money to SUNY Buffalo, Albany, Binghamton and Stony Brook, seeking projects that combine research and academic works with economic development.
However, Adams said, high property taxes were making New York less competitive. He cited reports of UBS potentially moving its headquarters from Stamford to the World Trade Center, tying the move to recent tax increases in Connecticut. In contrast, Adams said, New York State had lost out to Texas as home of the most Fortune 500 companies, because of the high cost of living.
He spoke in support of a proposed property tax cap, which he said would control costs.
“Fiscal discipline matters to the business community,” said Adams. “We’ve lost our edge. We’ve got to reform.”