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The Excelsior Jobs Program

September 9, 2010

Except for his periodic AM radio gigs, you don’t hear much from David Paterson anymore. But the other day, he did sign into law the Excelsior Jobs Program, which does represent a significant shift in state economic policy. 

The program provides incentives to industries that the state believes will be the hot sectors in the future —  biotech, pharmaceuticals, green technology and others. 

We’ve never been fans of any approach that depended on the government picking winners in the private sector, but we’ll give this program chance. It  is supposed to provide more accountability and be “results driven.” That, of course, remains to be seen.  But the mere fact that the state is trying a new approach is positive.     

Excelsior replaces the Empire Zones program, which was conceived during the Cuomo administration and expanded under Pataki.  

The level of abuse under Empire Zones was always an open question to us. Certain critics made it seem like companies were looting the state treasury through the program. Our sense was that when companies failed to meet their job-creation targets it was more a function of declining economic fortunes than greed. 

Without delving too much into the details of the new program it is worthwhile to consider its key provisions: This is a competitive program that provides targeted companies with tax credits for job creation, capital investment and R&D. It also provides tax credits to targeted companies that locate in distressed areas. Program costs are supposed to be capped at $250 million annually, and firms will only be provided with tax credits once they have met their individual job and/or investment commitments.  

All this sounds good, but it is doubtful  — without an associated effort to address the sky-high cost of doing business in New York – that this program will lead to any dramatic turnaround in our economic fortunes. 

Still, it’s something positive that happened on Paterson’s watch, and one day people might look back on it as a real accomplishment.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 12, 2010 12:29 AM

    This program excludes small businesses and rural areas. Will it benefit NYC, probably. Upstate, less likely.

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