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Photo Credit: City of Rochester Communications Bureau

Is Rochester the redheaded stepchild of Albany?

First, we received tens of millions of dollars less than our counterparts in Regional Economic Development funding. Now we find out in the State of the State Address the City of Buffalo is getting $1 billion in funding for economic development. That’s billion with a “B.” Rochester didn’t even get a shout-out during the speech.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said Buffalo is “in crisis.” Rochester isn’t?

There’s no question our region has lower unemployment and a long-proven ability to rebound from the dramatic downsizing of our large companies. (How ironic that the governor was making his address while reports of Kodak’s impending bankruptcy broke.)

But if we’re going to compare cities, Buffalo and Rochester have virtually identical poverty rates. The median income hovers around $30,000 with one-third of residents living in poverty. The June high school graduation rates don’t top 50 percent.

I’m not terribly familiar with downtown Buffalo, but I can’t imagine Rochester’s downtown is better. Our Main Street is pockmarked with vacancies and a giant hole in the ground. (Has Cuomo learned about Midtown yet?)

Whatever regional success we’re experiencing, it hasn’t trickled down in any giant way to the urban core.

Let’s also remember the City of Rochester faces state-imposed burdens its neighbors do not share. Rochester is required by state law to pay its school district more than Buffalo and Syracuse combined. It also gets less state aid per capita than Buffalo and Syracuse.

Sandy Parker of the Rochester Business Alliance said in a statement, “I am deeply disappointed that Rochester and the Finger Lakes were again overlooked by the powers in Albany…The long-held view in Albany that Rochester can take care of itself is unfair- and punitive.”

The absence of any mention of the Flower City is all the more astounding because our former mayor was at the governor’s side. Does Cuomo think Duffy is still in charge of Rochester and taking care of our problems?

I’m heartened the governor thinks urban issues are important. So is Rochester.

11 Responses to Rochester: Redheaded Stepchild

  1. January 4, 2012 at 6:45 pm Dan Hunt responds:

    I hate to say it but it appears nothing has changed for the better for Rochester’s reputation in Albany despite having Duffy as second in command.

  2. Hey, careful with those redhead references — we’re sensitive!

    Expecting Duffy’s help with this?? He’s only been in Albany a year — don’t want him to peak too soon 😉

    Really, on this, folks shouldn’t necessarily be hard on Duffy. One source this afternoon told me the Bux 4 Buffalo idea came entirely from the Governor. Perhaps he hasn’t forgotten that his father lost his job when Erie County didn’t vote for his re-election.

    It was interesting that Cuomo introduced the idea by talking about what focused State investment has done for the Capital District, and saying that it’s Buffalo’s time. A few years ago, the Buffalo News had an outstanding series looking at exactly that. It wouldn’t surprise me if Cuomo read it.

    However this came about, Buffalo can use every dime of investment we can get!

  3. perhaps the word’s out about the gross incompetence of both city and county redevelopment efforts.

    call Safdie and ask how much loot he walked away with for just doing sets of drawings.

    ask how the casino project was scuttled by a mayor who didn’t get it that over 2K direct and indirect jobs were forthcoming on a main busline in the city.

    result: seen a Wilmot project anywhere in the city lately? maybe a 3 story bldg. on what was the most expensive dwntn land at Main and Clinton. Maybe?

    how a lakefront development was tied to a failed transportation project and drones on like a sputtering outboard motor (unlike BUF’s lakefront projects.

    how about a Main St. transit mall complete with heated shelters that’s been 180’d into an off-main covered quansit hut.


    Oh, yeah, I’d give them some more money to play with, wouldn’t you?

  4. When Bob Duffy was Rochester’s mayor, he often made trips to Albany to push the agenda of the newly-created ‘fair-share’ coalition. At the very least, evenly-divided distributions should have been considered for Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse by Governor Cuomo. When I last passed through downtown Buffalo on the way to Canada, the downtown area looked intact, which is more anyone can say about Rochester’s current predicament. If Kodak goes under, Rochester will indeed be in dire need of an economic boost to stimulate small business growth.

  5. Im a redhead and my feelings are hurt.

  6. Having grown up in Buffalo (and living here in a Rochester suburb now), I look forward to seeing the new and exciting ways Buffalo will squander this money.

    As for Rochester… I hate to say this in the context of politics… but perhaps we need a better sales and marketing team?

  7. January 5, 2012 at 10:50 am Marilyn responds:

    There seems to be a prevailing attitude that Buffalo is more blue collar…and that Rochester has more college graduates, so we should be able to figure out our economic issues. We are punished by our former successes and I think that there has been an attitude that the “big companies” here should be able to support successful initiatives in the community. That might have been true 10 years ago, but not now. I went to one of the “Fair Share” meetings years ago. There was a lot of rhetoric, but not much came of it. This community has to be more vocal in Albany about the issues that exist here. This has to take place on a grassroots level, because Albany isn’t listening.I also think that there has been a lot of political strife in our city government here. If we did get money, could our leaders agree on what to spend it on?

  8. April 19, 2012 at 11:20 am Reggie Henderson responds:

    Reading this again brings to mind the idea, do we need to replace our state senate and assembly representatives? They are apparently very ineffective.

  9. April 20, 2012 at 2:21 pm Reggie Henderson responds:

    I just talked with Senator Joe Robach and he said the billion dollar figure is kind of an illusion. Projects in place already are counted towards the money, and Rochester has its own projects too, and there won’t be a billion dollar difference between the two cities.

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