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March 6, 2002

Manufacturing still key to upstate economy, Walsh says

Manufacturing "plays an especially vital role" in the upstate New York economy and must be a key target of efforts to bring new businesses and jobs to upstate communities, Business Council President/CEO Daniel B. Walsh told lawmakers.

North of Westchester and Rockland counties, manufacturing businesses employ 445,000 New Yorkers -- providing roughly one in every seven jobs, Walsh said at an Assembly hearing.

"More than almost any other sector of our economy, manufacturing brings in wealth from outside the local community, outside the state and from overseas," he said.

That wealth coming into the upstate economy creates additional jobs in supplier companies, and in services, retail and other industries, Walsh said. He cited state figures showing that nearly half of all private-sector jobs upstate depend directly or indirectly on manufacturing.

Despite recent job losses in some areas, the upstate economy is stronger than it was a decade ago, Walsh said. The region gained 23,000 jobs in the two years ending in December 2001, after having lost 72,000 jobs a decade earlier, the last time there was a national recession.

The state's economy is stronger because Governor Pataki and the Legislature have cut taxes and taken other steps to make New York's business climate more competitive, he said, adding that the state must "keep rolling" with additional reforms.

Walsh called on the Legislature to strengthen New York's climate for manufacturing by moving to the single sales factor for corporate income apportionment, repealing the alternative minimum tax on corporations and enacting a realistic approach to redevelopment of brownfield properties.

In addition, he said, state leaders should increase investment in university-business research and development partnerships, work to site more electric generating plants, and take other steps to reduce the cost of energy, health care and workers' compensation.