Cuomo celebrated in Saranac Lake

North Country REDC 2013

Photo: Mark Kurtz

Governor Andrew Cuomo was welcomed with repeated ovations Sunday afternoon as he visited a local restaurant in Saranac Lake to talk about the North Country’s latest win in the Regional Economic Development Council competition.

Cuomo noted that the North Country is the only region in the state to be a top-plan winner three years in a row, meaning that rural communities in the area have received more than $270 million in state funding.

Cuomo was described as “Santa Claus” by Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau, who said that funding to shore up the economic fortunes of Trudeau Institute and develop two hotel projects was “beyond transformational.”

The event at the Downhill Grill restaurant was packed with local residents and economic development officials and politicians from as far away as Potsdam, Plattsburgh, and Hamilton County.

NCPR will have more on this story Monday morning during Morning Edition and the 8 O’clock Hour.

31 Comments on “Cuomo celebrated in Saranac Lake”

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  1. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Pork dinner?

  2. Jim says:

    Pork, with sides of sleeze and cronyism. NYS politics in a nutshell……

  3. Hugh Hill says:

    The awards for private sector projects has, on average in the past 2 rounds, resulted in 10 private sector dollars invested for every state dollar awarded. If you look at the incentives offered by other states who have been creating more jobs than NY and other states whose population is growing instead of declining, like ours, you will find that they are very much more generous in supporting jobs creation than are we in NY. This money is not pork or sleaze, it is investment.

  4. The Original Larry says:

    It’s our damn tax money, doled out to private enterprises by shameless politicians, who are interested only in their own political futures, while legitimate programs go begging. It’s a crime to rehab decrepit theaters while schools go unfunded. This is why I always oppose raising taxes. If we have enough money to “invest” in hotel development we ought to have enough to adequately fund our schools.

  5. Philip Williams says:

    Welcome back to Saranac Lake, Governor!

    To put the money in perspective, the Hotel Saranac money is like $1,000 each for every man, woman and child living in Saranac Lake. I hope this money is spent carefully and with safeguards against waste; this kind of money is not likely to come again. No doubt that downtown Saranac Lake has suffered during the semi-closure of the hotel the last seven years. I’d rather see this $5 million combined with private money in this way, than to see the money spent on pavement, a stadium or even a new office building.

    I am not sure what Larry is talking about, as to schools being unfunded. The local school budgets are approved by the taxpayers; some districts spend up to $70,000 per child, more than Harvard costs.

    Clearly, tho, the state needs to find the money to keep the psychiatric hospital at Ogdensburg open and running full tilt.

    PS: about that editorial in the local paper which called you a “liar” about tax-free zones last summer; well, they didn’t mean anything by it. You can explain it to them but you can’t understand it for them.

  6. The Original Larry says:

    This is what I’m talking about, as to schools being unfunded: there are seemingly endless cries to increase school tax levies (especially in view of unfounded state mandates ) and even more cries against the tax cap; all while Cuomo gives tax dollars to private businesses. it is improper for government to invest in private enterprise, no matter what the hoped-for result. As for those results, don’t you think any of the national chains with hotels in the North Country would see the potential in the Hotel Saranac, if it had any?

  7. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I don’t necessarily have a problem with supporting well thought out projects that will help local economies using tax money, as long as protections are put in place for the taxpayers’ investment. But everyone needs to recognize pork for what it is. Not everyone gets the benefit of having a few million dollars in cash or credit that will leverage a few million of state money.

    They call it pork for a reason, people like pork. Of course I’m a vegetarian…

  8. Ellen B says:

    WRT chain hotels – like all chain businesses they have ‘no compete’ restrictions against opening up new outlets too close to existing business. There is no incentive for chains that have hotels in Lake Placid – Crown Plaza, Hilton, Marriot, Comfort Inn – to compete with their current locations.

  9. Walker says:

    I don’t have too many chances to agree with Larry, but this is one (even though I’m glad to see Saranac Lake getting a boost). Public money subsidizing private business interests is WAY too common these days. We need to raise taxes on those who can best afford to pay them, and use the money to fund infrastructure and education.

  10. The Original Larry says:

    Why dodge the question, Ellen, with extraneous information? I think that if there was commercial potential in the Hotel Saranac, a national chain or private investor would have spotted it.

  11. Ellen B says:

    OL, you’re changing the subject. You mentioned chains; what I wrote is the explanation for why chains have not moved to build in SL. As for private investing, um, that is what is going on at the moment. Two new hotel proposals, expansion of the biotech companies, etc.
    That said, it does feel like SL has gotten pretty lucky lately. On the other hand, it is not in anyone’s interest to let the Adirondacks, a major NYS attraction, to become full of crummy ghost towns.

  12. The Original Larry says:

    No, the subject remains the issue of using tax dollars to fund privately owned businesses, and I continue to maintain that it is improper, no matter what good may come of it. Everyone is money-crazy and acts as if anything goes, as long as there’s money in it.

  13. dave says:

    Larry, governments fund private businesses all the time, in all sorts of ways. Subsidies for farms (industrial and family), grants to private researchers, tax breaks for mega oil corporations, investments in new technologies, etc etc.

    Are you against all of those as well?

    I am actually sympathetic to your argument here… I’m just curious where the line is drawn.

  14. The Original Larry says:

    I draw the line at semantics. If you don’t know the difference, I don’t have time to explain it. I’m too busy working in a business that does not qualify for a cash grant from the state.

  15. Paul says:

    OL, Roedel is a private investor. One who know this industry very well.

    Semantics? When you have the time let us know what you mean.

  16. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Seems like Larry has plenty of time to write when people disagree, now dave is sympathetic but Larry is too busy?

  17. dave says:

    That’ll teach me.

  18. oa says:

    I completely agree with Larry here. He’s taking a principled conservative stand that most conservatives jettison at the first mention of a new sports stadium for a beloved privately owned sports team, or a PILOT giveaway and zoning variance to a Loews that will drive the local hardware store under. There are other local tourism sites that could use this money to shore up public infrastructure, especially along the St. Lawrence and Lake Champlain. Instead it’s going directly to a well-connected private entity.
    Seriously, Larry, bravo.

  19. Walker says:

    I agree. This is one more form of public subsidy of a private interest, like the money going to big ag, big oil, etc. While in this case I support its target, it doesn’t make it right.

  20. Mervel says:

    The hard thing about pork is that it is a zero sum game. OK, so we don’t like the pork of putting a couple of million to help a hotel in this one village, so lets turn it down? Then the pork just goes to some other town to give to their hotel. Its not like if we don’t take it the pork ends.

  21. Peter Hahn says:

    C’mon guys. People have been using public money to subsidize private businesses since governments were invented. Its usually to attract new industries and its usually “tax breaks” but thats really the same thing.

  22. Peter Hahn says:

    to continue, “pork” isn’t necessarily bad, and this isn’t pork. Its the state at the state level investing money in a region to generate more money. Pork would be if Betty Little brought in the state money or if Bill Owens brought in Federal money. That isn’t what happened so it isn’t pork. But if they did bring it in as pork it would still be a good thing for the local economy.

  23. The Original Larry says:

    Call it whatever you like; it’s still wrong. Tax breaks (and a tax code that favors businesses) aren’t the same as outright grants of tax money to privately owned business.

  24. Peter Hahn says:

    Larry – whats the difference between grants of tax money to someone and not collecting taxes from them?

  25. Will Doolittle says:

    I agree with Larry in principle, but if the state is going to get involved directly with promoting business, by funding it, then this is the way to do it. At least in this case, and with other projects being funded through the governor’s regional system, whatever it’s called, there’s a competitive process for a finite pot of state funding, and the projects are mostly grassroots, local businesses. This is the sort of project that can make a lasting difference, for the better, in a community and a region. Tourism is an industry with a long history in Saranac Lake, and the Hotel Saranac has deep roots there. A much worse use of taxpayer cash, in my opinion, are projects like GlobalFoundries in Malta, which got hundreds of millions in handouts from the state, and isn’t even based in this country, much less this region or state.

  26. Walker says:

    “Tax breaks (and a tax code that favors businesses) aren’t the same as outright grants of tax money to privately owned business.”

    (Ah, that’s better– something I can disagree with!)

    Sure it is! It’s exactly the same thing. Explain how it’s different.

  27. The Original Larry says:

    These grants are gifts of tax cash to private industry, determined by a completely subjective process. The tax code applies equally to all businesses. Tax abatements may be made at the local level and are subject to the approval (theoretically, at least) of voters. Subjectively determined cash gifts go way beyond “tax breaks.”

  28. The Original Larry says:

    Will Doolittle, I’m not sure what your beef is with Global Foundries, but they employ thousands of people in real, honest to god career type jobs with benefits. Yes, it all came at a great “cost” but that “cost” was primarily in tax dollars that never existed before and would never exist if Global Foundries went elsewhere. On the other hand, the residents of Saranac Lake can look forward to a potential handful of seasonal hotel and restaurant jobs with no benefits that were purchased with existing tax dollars that might have been (and should have been) better spent elsewhere, like schools or psych hospitals, etc.

  29. Will Doolittle says:

    Actually, Larry, the initial $1.2 billion in incentives to get GF to come to NY included $650 million in cash. It was tax money handed over to a company from Abu Dhabi — probably the last company in the world that needed cash assistance. Regardless, it was a huge amount of cash — not tax breaks, cash — that was turned over. And the company got a huge amount of money in tax breaks on top of that cash. Yes, GF employs lots of people. But the question for me is, what else could have been done with that cash, to promote homegrown businesses, that I believe, in the long run, would benefit the economy more than throwing money at Abu Dhabi?

  30. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Well, let’s do some math! How many $100,000 grants to individual small businesses would there be in $650 million? Um, just a sec… drop 5 zeros…that would be 6,500 new businesses. I’m not sure we really want 6,500 entrepreneurs around here clogging up the streets and filling up all the seats at the diner.

  31. The Original Larry says:

    Will Doolittle,
    I had no idea that that much cash was involved and that certainly puts things in a somewhat different light. That said, GF was a partnership between AMD (US) & ATIC (Abu Dhabi) and much of the money was spent here, so it’s hardly “throwing money at Abu Dhabi.” Even so, what “homegrown businesses” are you referring to: hotels, movie theaters (at least four of them), wastewater treatment studies or maybe the winery expansion project? Yeah, there’s sure a bunch of jobs there that will make the GF workforce look silly. As for the economy, these “awards” are nothing more than welfare on a municipal level.

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