A lot of people said Andrew Cuomo created the Buffalo Billion because he didn’t win Erie County when he ran for his first term as governor. He wanted to win over the community. The strategy was successful, as he carried Erie County when he ran for his second term.
Is it Rochester’s turn?
Cuomo did not win Monroe County in the 2014 election. You can blame resentment over the Buffalo Billion, Safe Act, Common Core, a perception he’s a bit of a bully and the general feeling he doesn’t care about Rochester. Having a lieutenant governor from Rochester during his first term did absolutely nothing to shore up his popularity.
In 2015, Cuomo seems to have discovered Rochester exists.
Gannett wrote an article called “Rochester clearly in Cuomo’s focus now.” It reads in part:
Anti-poverty initiative. Photonics center. Capital for a day. Medical marijuana facility.
After losing Monroe County in November, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration are clearly paying more attention to the Rochester area.
In January, the Democratic governor appeared in Rochester to announce a $1.5 billion competition for upstate economic development aid. He spoke once here in February about his budget proposal, then twice in the county in March.
Cuomo could use the boost, too. His job-performance rating in May fell to 37 percent,the lowest point since he became governor in 2011.
I think it’s too soon to say Cuomo is all about Rochester. (And if he is – where was he before? Why now? Does this make the first four years of not being here go away?)
First, the state’s pledge of $250 million to the photonics institute was a no-brainer. The money, coupled with SUNY Polytechnic’s track record, helped Rochester win the Department of Defense’s award. But this was a pledge of money to a maybe. It was also a pledge of money that will undoubtedly be handed out over many years. In addition, Rochester is already a leader in photonics. The governor did nothing to make that happen. He’s supporting something that already exists.
Second, the Capital for a Day thing was a dog and pony show. Does he think Rochester felt special? It was actually kind of insulting to see a bunch of high-level state officials learning about our community over the course of a single day. They should already know Rochester. It shouldn’t take a highly-orchestrated public relations stunt and the sprinkling of pork to get these officials to come to town.
Third, the anti-poverty initiative is a giant unknown. The plan is there is no plan. The governor gave us $6 million and no one has any idea what it will be used for. So far, there have been some nice brainstorming sessions.
Fourth, the medical marijuana facility and its 195 promised jobs is very nice. But Rochester wasn’t the only place chosen for such a facility. Sure, politics could have played a role in the selection, but Columbia Care – as well as Eastman Business Park – may have won on their merits.
Fifth, Gannett thought it was a great thing for Rochester that Cuomo came here to announce another economic development competition. This “Hunger Games” announcement was panned by many.
Finally, trying to shore up Rochester’s economy will not be as tough as other places. We don’t have the same population loss or unemployment as say…the Southern Tier. Things are not great, but they’re worse in other parts of the state. Rochester also has the colleges, workforce and infrastructure for a great success story.
Cuomo could use Rochester to boost his struggling favorability and job performance ratings. The question to start thinking about is this: If Rochester’s economy improves, how much will be due to Cuomo?
Links of the Day:
– COMIDA: “Nearly a quarter of the projects projected no new jobs and 30 percent estimated creating one new job each.”
– Great history lesson: Why does Jeb Bush admire James Polk?
– The Millennial Commune: An expensive dorm for adults.
– Sweet story: A Syracuse man depended on his bike. When it was stolen, friends and coworkers stepped up.
– Try something new: At 64, Utica man launched second career — as a nude model.
— Rachel Barnhart (@rachbarnhart) August 3, 2015