New York: Business or bust?

Posted at: 05/21/2013 10:40 PM | Updated at: 05/22/2013 8:16 AM
By: Don Hudson | WHEC.com

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New York is spending more than $100 million of taxpayer money promoting the state's business environment. The ad campaign is running on national cable shows and in New York on local television stations.  At the same time, there are studies that say the state is one of the worst places to do business.

So is it money well spent?

The music is catchy and the message clear, New York State is the place to launch or grow your business. But is it?
     
A lot of business owners, like Rochester architect Dan Mossien, say New York is not the best place for businesses."My brother-in-law called me from San Antonio. Why are they advertising in Texas for me to move to New York? Why would I move there with state income tax and some of the highest taxes in the country?”

Those types of comments from business owners made News10NBC want to look into the New York open for business campaign.We wanted to know is the information accurate?Is your money being spent to air the ads worth it? And is New York actually business friendly?

The first thing we did was contact the Governor's Office. We were told the ads are "fact checked and accurate."

One ad says New York had 50,000 new businesses last year. News10NBC checked with the U.S. Bureau of Labor, the federal agency responsible for measuring labor activity. The numbers show just over 109,000 new businesses opened in 2011. The data also shows more than 104,000 businesses actually closed.  Number of new businesses is about 4 and half thousand.

We also took a look at their data for January through September of 2012. The number of new businesses is basically flat.  

Then there is the claim that the state has reduced taxes and lowered costs to save businesses two billion dollars. Mossien says he'll believe it when he sees it. "Greatly reduced taxes. Where are they greatly reduced? They aren't to me.”

While the governor's budget did make some reductions in business taxes, some tax surcharges were left in the budget and there is actually a net tax hike of about four billion over the next four years.
     
And what about the price tag of this campaign? $140 million. News10NBC tracked down Lt. Governor Bob Duffy Governor with that question.

Lt. Governor Bob Duffy said, “"Well, I think the most important thing we can do is measure the outcomes. Nothing is a sure thing."

While Duffy believes it is worth the money, he admits we won't really know for sure for sometime.

Assemblyman Bill Nojay says he can answer that question right now. "If we really want to grow jobs rather than running television ads we'd be lowering taxes, lowering the cost of doing business and making New York State Government more business friendly."

But Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa Derosa said, "This is a tool other states have used for a decade. We are doing everything we can to level the playing field to bring businesses and jobs to the state."

That leads us to the last question, is New York actually business friendly? Nojay says business leaders have spoken. "Business decision makers, the CEO's and finance people, these people are very aware of the business conditions. They're saying thanks, but no thanks.”

He is not the only one saying that. Chief Executive Magazine ranked New York the second worst state for businesses. And the Tax Foundation ranked the New York business climate the worst of all 50 states.

Duffy's response?

Duffy said, "For the things that people criticize the state for, I will point out the things that are great. Educational system. Higher education especially. A great workforce. There's a lot we have going for us."

Mossien, who just added two new employees, and is doing well, but says New York just isn't a friend of business.

Mossein said, "The insurance regulations in New York State are brutal if you are in construction."

News10NBC took that complaint to Duffy as well.

Duffy said, “Well, I think first of all, no one would dispute that fact there needs to be changes in specific areas of business. You want to make this state as business friendly as possible."

Even Duffy acknowledges New York needs to do more to be actually be considered "business friendly." But he says the administration is trying to move in that direction. So far, $24 million of your tax dollars has been spent running the ads. If you want to voice your opinion, you can email the governor or write one of you lawmakers.


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