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  • Regions, Clusters, and Reform: Economic Development Policy Under Andrew Cuomo

    Economic development was a central focus of Andrew Cuomo’s successful New York gubernatorial campaign. Of the five core principles in Cuomo’s New NY agenda, which documented his campaign platform, two of them—the pledge to “Get Our Fiscal House in Order,” and the economic strategy outlined in NY Works—were premised directly on improving the state’s economy. This study focuses on Cuomo’s economic development strategy, which was presented during his gubernatorial campaign in a detailed 180-plus page document, NY Works: Getting New York Back to Work, and later enacted in part during the new governor’s first year in office. Cuomo’s economic development policy is closely linked to his budget and fiscal policy—for example, when debating how to close the state’s budget gap, he argued that extending an existing surtax on high-income taxpayers, or in fact raising any taxes at all, would hurt New York’s “business climate,” causing businesses and wealthy individuals to leave the state. In the first legislative session, Cuomo successfully resisted calls for major tax increases and did not renew the high-income surtax based in significant part on this economic development rationale. This paper does not analyze the state’s fiscal policy but focuses on Cuomo’s regional strategy, which emphasizes specific industrial concentrations, or “clusters,” around the state. Key steps include formation of ten regional economic development Councils, development of regional plans by those councils, and the state’s initial funding of those plans through a competitive process.