Governor Andrew Cuomo shared his Opportunity Agenda on the Plattsburgh State campus last Thursday with hopes that it would breathe new life into New York. And for the first time in decades, the North Country is on the leading end of the upturn.

With currently the lowest unemployment rate in New York, Cuomo said the state has rediscovered the North Country’s economic potential in the last four years because of its boost in tourism and small business. But Cuomo hopes to take the economy even further.

“We’re going to take that energy and not just build back the economy,” Cuomo said. “Our goal has to be to build an economy that is better and stronger tha has ever existed in the North Country.”

One of his first steps in economic revitalization for is drastically cutting statewide property taxes by $2 billion. Currently, New York state has the highest property tax rate in the country.

In turn, Assemblywoman Janet Duprey anticipates a substantial tax cut would spur growth and development across Upstate New York.

“Our local businesses will be able to prioritize their funding and the resources they need to successfully manage their businesses and expand their workforces,” Duprey said.

Starting this year, the North Country will take part in the Upstate New York Economic Revitalization Competition, a $1.5 billion initiative that incentivizes regions throughout New York state to develop projects that strengthen infrastructure and bolster employment and quality of life. Of the seven eligible regions, including the North Country, three will be granted $500 million if they are considered priority areas for improving life in New York.

Cuomo is also using SUNY as a tool to drive New York’s economy forward, particularly with the START-UP NY program. Through the program, new businesses that start up within a designated START-UP zone around a SUNY campus are relieved of tax payments for the first 10 years of business. Cuomo said that so far, START-UP zones are predominately in Upstate New York.

Bettering North Country access to high-speed broadband Internet is another initiative Cuomo hopes will be integral in economic growth, as he noted high-speed Internet access is a necessity for businesses that want to be competitive.

In the North Country, 87 percent of the population still cannot access high-speed broadband. The state is investing $500 million into the New NY Broadband program to put most of the state under broadband access.

According to Cuomo, this is the highest investment any state has made in localizing broadband on a statewide level.

Email Brian Molongoski at managing@cardinalpointsonline.com

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