Lesson from Rochester
by Emily Gallagher
Feb 20, 2019 | 1141 views | 0 0 comments | 46 46 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Something didn’t check out for me with the myriad Amazon supporters, and it was bigger than my neighborhood organizing perspective.

It was people repeating over and over that we had lost “25,000 jobs.” Maybe this is because I am from Rochester.

In Western New York, we have learned to take Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plans for us with a dose of caution, and we don’t really believe in the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC).

In Rochester, we saw $250 million spent on an optics generator that got the whole city wound up with excitement. After the facility was built, the company ditched us.

Then the state invested more money to make it interesting to someone else. Going into 2019, there is word that there might be a new tenant. The campus is delayed.

In Buffalo, four people have gone to jail over bid rigging for the Buffalo Billions Project, and it’s been pretty much declared a dud after wasting billions in resources.

There is no true oversight on the ESDC, and they control roughly a quarter of our budget. There have been grassroots groups like the Citizens Budget Commission calling for better oversight and metrics, but it’s doubtful we will get them unless we fight tooth and nail.

There are several differences between the Amazon scenario and it’s upstate counterparts, but the primary one is that people around the country and the world actually pay attention to what happens in New York City, versus the woefully neglected remainder of New York State, where empty promises are the status quo.

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