State economic development czar says Mid-Hudson economy is strong


Zemsky: “… you are the stars of the show”

POUGHKEEPSIE – New York spends $8 billion a year on efforts to
create jobs and that is more money than any other state in the country,
according to Howard Zemsky, the president of the state’s Empire
State Development Corporation.

Zemsky spoke to the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce at their
breakfast in Poughkeepsie on Wednesday.

His speaking engagement comes at a time when Governor Cuomo has been criss-crossing
the state to tout his economic development efforts and the attempts to
lure new job-creating businesses to New York.

The leader of the governor’s efforts to decentralize economic development
efforts by using regional economic development councils, Zemsky ran off
a list of claimed successes, including the investment in the half-billion
dollar construction project at Vassar Brothers Medical Center and Hudson
Heritage, a planned mixed-use project that includes a hotel, to be located
on the grounds of the former Hudson River Psychiatric Center.

Zemsky declined to answer questions about the problems his office is having
with finding tenants for the former Beacon Correctional Facility since
their original plan for a New York City-based non-profit food production
program, the Doe Fund, withdrew their application after local leaders
balked at the idea.

The Buffalo businessman did credit the chamber of commerce members with
helping to improve the business climate. “When it comes to the economy,
you are the stars of the show,” Zemsky said as he told the audience
that the Mid-Hudson region has a four percent unemployment rate, which
is the lowest in New York. As a result, he said one of the biggest challenges
faced by employers is finding qualified workers compared to a few years
ago when the employment rate was hovering around nine percent.

The Empire State Development Corporation also runs the state tourism program
and Zemsky said that tourism is the fourth largest employment sector in
New York. Locally Dutchess Tourism has brought over half a billion dollars
in revenue from tourists to the county.