ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday said that for every 10 companies he contacts to try to woo to New York, only one is interested.
This comes six years into his administration in which he made “Open for Business” a motto on which tens of millions of taxpayer dollars were spent for TV ads.
“For every 10 companies I talk to, one is interested in moving to New York,” Cuomo told reporters in Rochester. “For every 10 companies that we actually start to have conversations with, a handful pan out. . . . It’s the nature of the beast.”
The statement comes after the state ended conversations this month with a California-based photonics company because the company wasn’t going to provide the benefit the administration hoped.
That case followed the foundering of a $15 million motion picture “hub” planned for Syracuse that has attracted few productions and jobs. In addition, federal agents are investigation Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion project over allegations of bid-ridding and bribery involving developers who are among Cuomo’s top campaign contributors.
In his 2017-18 budget proposal, Cuomo revamped his much-promoted “Start-Up New York” program, which he created to provide companies a tax-free 10 years in New York if they located near a college campus.
Last week he changed the name of the program and loosened the job-creation requirements. Under a new name, the Excelsior Business Program, the new program would give companies more time to meet their employment promises in exchange for tax-free status.
Cuomo defended his Start-Up NY program, which he said didn’t require the state to sacrifice existing tax revenue because the jobs wouldn’t exist without the tax-free program.
“We created about 4,000 jobs,” he said. “What I like most about it is it cost nothing. . . . It was all gravy. It cost absolutely nothing.”
Last year, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued a report that found one of Cuomo’s biggest economic development programs couldn’t verify that many companies receiving tax breaks met their jobs promises. In 2015, DiNapoli also questioned the value of $211 million in TV ads to promote the programs and to boost the state’s economy. He said there was a “very weak connection” between the ads touting Start Up and any return for taxpayers.
“The net is jobs,” Cuomo said of the fierce interstate competition. “We have probably started over 500 companies that have been attracted to New York. Of those 500, some will be a success and some will turn out to be a bust. . . . That is the nature of the beast.”