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Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

September 25, 2007

Assembly leader calls for renewed commitment, partnership to rebuild Upstate economy

Albany is in danger of allowing politics to interfere with partnership, putting up a roadblock to changes and reforms necessary to help the state's business community, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told Business Council members during remarks at the Councils 2007 Annual Meeting.

Lawmakers began the year with great promise and a productive legislative session, the Speaker said. “In fact, it wasn't that long ago that Ken Adams and I – along with Governor Spitzer, Senator Bruno, and AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes – came together to publicly announce agreement on worker's compensation reform.”

That reform, which resulted in the first workers' compensation rate decrease in nearly 30 years, should be the starting point for more progress, the Speaker said.

“Whatever personal disagreements exist between the leaders of this state," the Speaker continued, "They are nothing when compared to the numerous challenges facing this state, which includes, as everyone seems to agree, rescuing our Upstate economy.”

The Speaker praised Governor Spitzer for making Upstate revitalization a priority of his administration and added that both houses of the Legislature and the Governor were offering proposals to improve the region's economy.

The Assembly's 22-point economic development and job growth plan includes proposals to improve the state's public colleges and universities; invest in university-industry-government partnerships; provide assistance to manufacturers for equipment modernization and training; and provide assistance to new businesses through tax credits, grants and loan programs, the Speaker said.

The Speaker also pointed to signs of progress in the state's attempt to make Albany a leading technology center, including a recent article highlighting Albany as a new center of nanotechnology.

“All it takes is partnership, a little vision, a willingness to listen to the experts, and a commitment to working together to achieve a common goal,” the Speaker said.

It was such partnership and commitment from the public and private sectors in the state that led to success in the rebuilding of lower Manhattan after the September 11 attacks of 2001.

The Speaker recalled that six years ago, nine days after the attacks, he spoke to the Council's membership and asked them to join him in rebuilding.

“I am proud to report that Seven World Trade stands at Ground Zero nearly three-quarters filled,” he said. “Nearby are the world headquarters of American Express, Merrill Lynch, Dow Jones, Verizon and Moody's along with a number of excellent hotels and some of the finest dining establishments in the City of New York.”

There is still work to be done, the Speaker acknowledged. The area still has not recovered all the jobs lost as a result of the attack, impacting its standing as a business and finance center.

He urged Council members to continue to work to rebuild the area.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, as I told this Council six years ago today, rebuilding Lower Manhattan is a moral obligation and an American obligation, the Speaker said. “History has given us – you and I – a rare opportunity to deliver a unifying and uplifting reply to a terrorist network that believes it can halter the world.”

The Speaker told members that the business community can be part of showing the world the “power, resiliency and resolve,” which New York is known for.