Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's state-paid advertising blitz to promote New York, but which critics said also served as promotional ads for Cuomo's re-election campaign, have no tangible results for New Yorkers, according to an audit released Monday.
Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said the $211 million in state funds spent on an advertising contract to promote economic development and tourism had no clear objectives and show no clear results.
The audit also found Cuomo's START-UP NY program that offers tax-free existence for companies and their employees who come to New York isnat the barnstorming success the governor has portrayed.
Cuomo through a spokesman disputed the audit and said it succeeded in drawing attention to economic development programs, while showing New York is now a good place for business.
Many of the ads flooded TV stations statewide during the 2014 campaigns in which Cuomo ran for re-election on a platform that New York is now "Open for Business."
The audit found that from October 2013 to October 2014, the state spent $45.1 million advertising to advertise Cuomo's START-UP program and received 18,203 applications. But just 10 percent were eligible for the program aimed at high-tech companies that would align with colleges for research and just 41 enrolled in the program during that time.
Those 41 businesses propose to create 1,750 jobs over the next five, which would mean each job cost taxpayers about $25,000 in advertising.
"The facts, as confirmed by ongoing independent quantitative research, show our efforts have made great strides in improving perceptions of New York state,a said Jason Conwall, spokesman for the state Empire State Development Corp. in the Cuomo administration. He said the ads succeeded by acreating greater awareness of our economic development programsa and aincreasing the perception that New York is a good or excellent place to do business."
He said DiNapoli used the number of companies which simply inquired about START-UP on a form in his analysis, not the much smaller number of true applicants. That distorted the audit's findings, Conwall said.
Auditors also said the state allocated more money for ads to promote START-UP even after applications peaked in January 2014 without any analysis to justify the spending.