Gov. Andrew Cuomo talks about the importance of improving the business climate in New York state and making it easier to attract development. If that's the goal, why is Fulton County facing costly obstacles in its effort to access its state grant for an industrial park?
Last December, the state, as part of the New York Open for Business campaign, awarded the county a $2 million grant to acquire the former Tryon youth detention center property on County Highway 107. The county wants to turn the 40 existing buildings and 300 acres of land into a technology park, to be called the Tryon Technology Park and Incubator Center.
Now the county is finding out there's a catch. County taxpayers will have to pay the state more than $20,000 before the county can access the grant. That's in addition to other local costs for a public hearing, attorney fees, appraisals, surveys, title insurance, credit searches, filing fees and other state requirements.
County officials recently complained about the costs. Some county supervisors suggested they air their frustrations to Cuomo and local state representatives. The concerns are warranted.
The Tryon plan has great potential for business development and could significantly improve the county's economic condition. The park would attract new businesses, providing jobs and tax revenue.
Cuomo's Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council celebrated the announcement of the grant last year. In all, the council awarded $60.2 million for 59 projects in the Mohawk Valley. At the time, state officials didn't mention how expensive it would be to actually get the money.
Unfortunately, it looks like the county probably will have to pay the $20,000-plus. Officials would be foolish to jeopardize the grant over such a small local amount.
But clearly, the state should make the process easier and be upfront about any strings attached to these grants.
"The goal of the 'New York Open for Business' initiative is to promote the many assets of investing in New York so the state can regain its reputation as a business-friendly location," touts a 2011 news release about the Open for Business campaign. Charging grant recipients - and local taxpayers - tens of thousands of dollars to access their grant doesn't seem to match the public tone of the governor's program.