Saving the Trudeau Institute is a perfect test for Team Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo visited the North Country last week, pushing his message that New York state has to undergo a profound economic transition.

In the future, Cuomo argues, we will rely less on government jobs and more on innovative, high-tech businesses.

To that end, he wants to create ten economic development councils that will work in tailored, targeted ways to attract and retain employers.

In his state of the state address, Cuomo argued that old economic development approaches simply weren’t working.

“We spend about $1.6 billion per year in economic development and we are number 50 in terms of results,” he argued.

Obviously, the new administration would like to have more time to put its new policies and programs in place, but in government you’re not always allowed the luxury of time.

Right now, Gov. Cuomo faces the loss of the Adirondack Park’s most innovative, high-tech, forward-looking private employer.

The Trudeau Institute is exactly the kind of biotech firm that New York state — and Upstate in particular — can no longer afford to see depart.

But right now, New York state is being outhustled by other economic development teams, in North Carolina and apparently also in Florida.

According to Chris Knight’s latest report, Gov. Cuomo has reached out personally to the head of Trudeau Institute’s board of directors.¬† That’s a good start.

But it appears that our competitors in other states are offering  more tangible incentives, which Trudeau will be hard-pressed to turn down.

It’s time for Team Cuomo to spring into action, organizing the kind of targeted, focused task force that can get New York state back in the game of saving this company.

This task force should report back directly to the second floor in Albany and its leader should be given the directive that this is a symbolic fight, a line in the sand.

If we win, by anchoring Trudeau here and making it even stronger, the victory will mark one early sign of New York’s turnaround and a sign that the Cuomo administration can move with agility, and mobilize effectively.

But the ramifications of losing Trudeau will be severe, in real terms and in the message it will send about our ability to turn the corner.

Saranac Lake is the largest, most economically diverse community in the Adirondack Park, and a rare success story in the region.

If Trudeau closes its doors, or shifts a substantial amount of its operations elsewhere, the hole that is New York’s economy will be that much deeper and that much harder to crawl out of.

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4 Comments on “Saving the Trudeau Institute is a perfect test for Team Cuomo”

  1. Paul says:

    “It’s time for Team Cuomo to spring into action, organizing the kind of targeted, focused task force that can get New York state back in the game of saving this company.”

    Brian, first of all the term “company” is usually more associated with a for-profit entity. But yes, I guess we can technically call Trudeau a company.

    If Trudeau needs to be closer to a clinical setting to get the federal funds it needs to stay in business than there isn’t much that “team Cuomo” can do to keep this institution in Saranac Lake.

    EL Trudeau himself came to Saranac Lake because it had something that he and many others needed. Maybe now they need something else.

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  2. mary says:

    Not sure how Team Cuomo can influence Trudeau. Economic incentives or tax breaks are unlikely to be given to a non-profit for obvious reasons.

    What kind of incentives would be effective? If they are getting good offers from Florida and North Carolina, what would these offers consist of?

    If they just want to relocate where there is more scientific research this will still mean they will leave the Adirondacks. However, there might be some way of convincing them to stay in New York State.

    I guess if I was on Team Cuomo, I would try first to get them to stay in Saranac Lake, but if that seems unlikely, I would try to give them incentives to stay in New York.

    There is quite alot of research being done in other areas of the state and New York has some great research and educational institutions — and probably rated higher than Florida.

    It almost looks like they are moving for a better climate….. please say that is not so.

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  3. Walker says:

    I found this plaintive, anonymous post on a blog back in November…

    “I am a current employee of Trudeau Institute. We are a small, independent, non-for-profit immunology research institute that is located in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains of Northern New York State, and currently employs approximately 130 individuals. We the employees of Trudeau Institute have always prided ourselves on our scientific mission to do basic research on infectious disease and immunity; not for monetary gain, but to make our discoveries publicly available to all in the form of peer-reviewed journal submissions. We are also quite proud of the unique character of our rustic, remote yet beautiful mountain town, and the particular history that our Institute shares with the village.

    It appears that both things we cherish (our altruistic scientific mission and our eclectic setting) may soon change, as the Institute considers branching out into a more profit-driven direction (traditionally the territory of the Biotech industry) along with a move to the NCRC. Of course we’ve been told that nothing is certain, but such is always the case in scenarios like this. Recently there has been talk of “Strategic Planning” and a consulting group was hired to investigate the “health and vitality of our future.” Publicly the officers deny that any decision has been made, and most employees are being kept in the dark. Meanwhile, many internal leaks from present and former high-ranking individuals have revealed that the Institute’s financial situation is much worse than most realize, and it is highly unlikely that Trudeau Institute will remain in Saranac Lake. Thus, many believe that the consulting group was only hired to report what the real deciders want to hear, and to serve as a “non-biased” third party upon whom to place the blame. Rather than addressing staff concerns in a substantial way, everything is dismissed as rumor, and management cite confidentiality agreements as the reason that they can tell us no more. Most staff would be happy just to know if they will have jobs six months from now.

    This all has created distrust and worry among the staff, who are losing confidence in the workplace that we always believed was more of a family than merely a job. Many employees are not thrilled about the prospect of relocating to a generic cookie-cutter work-complex Campus like the NCRC, where even the restaurants have science-themed names. Nor are many happy about our beloved Institute’s scientific mission creeping ever closer to monetary motivations of Industry science.”

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  4. cement says:

    sadly, a story in today’s adk daily enterprise quotes sen. betty little saying that trudeau officials seemed disinterested in what gov’t can do to help them, with the goal of staying in saranac lake.

    the story went on to say that trudeau has already visited locations in NC and Fla.

    too bad. their roots here date back to 1884.

    dr. frank trudeau was a customer of my dad’s and that’s how i got to know him. what a great, friendly man.

    dr. frank loved it here. i’m sure he’s not smiling now.

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