January 6, 2006
Council publication emphasizes need innovation and breaking down competitive barriers
A new Business Council publication being sent to New York lawmakers, policymakers and business leaders says New York State can succeed in an innovation-driven economy if it acts now.
The 16-page publication, Ahead of the Curve, outlines steps New York must take to succeed in the coming years, as well as pointing out fundamental changes the state must make to attract jobs and businesses.
“New York State has still not made back the jobs we lost in the 2001 recession and the aftermath of 9/11,” Linda Sanford, vice-president at IBM and chairman of the Council’s board of directors writes in the introduction. “Parts of Upstate are hemorrhaging jobs and people.”
Business people know that if you lag behind your competitors year after year, huge gaps can open up before you know it, Sanford wrote. “One example: 15 years ago, New York had a million more jobs that Texas. Today, Texas has a million more jobs than New York.”
“Yet the more important truth is that New York has a potential far greater than our dispirited, partisan public dialogue allows us to imagine,” Sanford wrote.
The key to the state’s future growth is innovation, Sanford said. “Innovation is the force that will define our competitiveness, drive our economic progress, improve our quality of life, and strengthen our ability to deal without social problems,” Sanford wrote.
“New York ranks 5th in the nation—and almost one-third above the national average—in the percentage of our adult population holding degrees,” the booklet says. “We’re also above average in the percentage holding bachelors’ degrees.”
New York also produces more patents every year than most foreign nations, and is second only (in the U.S.) to California, the booklet said.
In spite of those strengths, New York ranks only 41st in private-sector job growth over the last 10 years, and only 32nd in the growth of high-tech employment.
In order to become more competitive, New York must hone its “capacity to innovate,” the booklet said.
- Ensure all New York children get a strong, basic education.
- Educate new, qualified math and science teachers for New York schools.
- Increase the number of New York students getting undergraduate and graduate degrees in science, math and engineering.
- Help universities advance basic research.
- Enact growth-oriented tax incentives.
- Redirect the state’s economic development incentives towards those identified by the private sector as most promising for each region’s future.
New York must also “break through the handicaps” that give the state an unnecessary disadvantage in the competition with other potentially high-innovation locations.
- Reining in debt, spending and taxes and state and local levels.
- Reforming workers’ compensation.
- Addressing the high cost of energy.
- Restraining the growth in health-care costs.
- Reducing unnecessary liability costs.
- Giving Upstate New York special opportunities to reduce those costs.