Economic Development Prizes

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo greets representatives of the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council during an economic development awards ceremony in Albany Dec. 8, 2016.

Associated Press

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will take the spotlight Wednesday morning to announce hundreds of millions in state funding designed to help grow New York's economy. As much as we applaud the state's investment in job creation and retention, we hope today marks the final episode in Cuomo's annual "Hunger Games" awards show.

At stake is more than $800 million in funding that will be divvied up among regional economic development councils around the state, with some getting much large pieces of the pie than others. The process began many months ago, with councils coming up with their plans based on projects that came before them. The state then reviewed those plans and chose "winning" regions.

In this part of the state, the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council has endorsed 38 priority projects, including seven in Cayuga County.

Currier Plastics in Auburn is hoping for a $1.8 million grant and $180,000 in tax credits to support a proposed $9.9 million expansion. The Cayuga County Industrial Development Agency is seeking a $284,000 grant to help pay for the expansion of sewer capacity for Cayuga Milk Ingredients and Grober Nutrition at the industrial park in Aurelius.

While it's great to encourage regional planning and coordination, the reality is that economic development should not be subject to a set schedule. There is no reason that projects can't be quietly awarded funding one at a time throughout the year.

The reality is that potential projects are standing by waiting to go. Developers need to know if they'll be getting state assistance — and if so, how much — but everyone is kept in a holding pattern waiting for this yearly spectacle to occur.

It also can't help for some projects to have to wait until December, because there are plenty of projects that won't be able to start until after the winter — further delaying progress.

This yearly ritual of turning economic development into an awards show has run its course, and we urge legislators and the governor to reexamine this model to make it more flexible for businesses trying to invest in this state — and less promotional for officials trying to get re-elected.

The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Rob Forcey, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.

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