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Business

State-funded study says development ads sway business opinion on NY

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks on Oct. 22,

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks on Oct. 22, 2013, in Melville about the Start-Up NY program that gives big tax breaks to businesses that locate on state university property. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

After criticism of the state's multimillion-dollar advertising campaign to boost the economy, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's administration Tuesday plans to release a study showing the television commercials have begun to reverse negative perceptions, particularly among business executives from out of state.

Officials at Empire State Development, the agency responsible for the campaign, said Monday that the ads led executives to reconsider impressions of New York as unfriendly to expanding companies, with high taxes and onerous regulations. The state officials said New York has improved its position against Florida, Texas, New Jersey and other states.

But some critics of Cuomo's Start-Up NY tax-free zones dismissed the state-commissioned report. They doubted it would prove the "New NY" and Start-UP NY commercials have attracted jobs and businesses to the state.

Earlier this month, the State Legislature authorized Empire State Development to spend an additional $50 million for business development and tourism ads during 2015-16. Lawmakers had approved as much as $200 million for the four years ended March 31, though only about $161 million was expended, according to state records.

The study found 51 percent of business executives from other states said New York is a good place to do business. An equal number also said they would consider expanding their company to New York. Only about 23 percent gave similar responses in October 2013.

The report's author, Russell Research of East Rutherford, N.J., conducted polls of 820 executives, inside and outside of New York, in October 2013, February 2014 and October 2014.

"Changing the perception of New York State was the goal and the data and analytics demonstrate that our efforts are clearly resonating," said Howard Zemsky, Cuomo's economic development czar.

John Kaehny, executive director of the advocacy group Reinvent Albany, said: "The big question here is do the ad dollars translate into business executives bringing jobs to New York State . . . keeping jobs in New York State? We don't know."

The ads don't appear to have changed the attitude of executives already in the state. Sixty-three percent said they would consider expanding in New York -- unchanged from earlier polls.

The report found the "I Love NY" tourism campaign is more familiar to New Yorkers and residents of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Canada than ads for competing destinations.

The Manhattan-based BBDO advertising firm developed the promotional campaigns for business development and tourism. Officials said its contract ends in November.

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