October 09, 2007

Officials Seek Map For Upstate Growth

By: by Eric Anderson, Deputy Business Editor, Times Union


ALBANY -- As steel went up outside for the new research headquarters of International Sematech, the state's top two economic development officials met at the Albany NanoTech complex Thursday with nearly 70 local officials to coordinate New York's economic development efforts with local priorities.

The session, the last of seven held around the state, brought together Empire State Development Corp. co-chairmen Daniel C. Gundersen and Patrick J. Foye and local development, business and civic leaders.

The next step will be to draw up blueprints outlining strategies for revitalizing the upstate economy, which the administration of Gov. Eliot Spitzer has made a major goal.

Topics Thursday ranged from the lack of private capital for smaller companies to research and development tax credits that could keep the state competitive.

A major part of the local economic plan is nanotechnology, said Gundersen. The College of Nanoscale Sciences and Engineering at the University at Albany, the site of the meeting, has become a major international research center for semiconductor companies.

But Gundersen and Foye also talked about some of upstate's infrastructure needs, from improved highways and wider access to broadband Internet connections to better air and rail service.

"Broadband is perhaps the best tool we have to connect our communities across upstate," Gundersen said.

Renewable energy sources are another factor in upstate economic development, he said, with the push to develop wind energy and increase the production of ethanol playing major roles.

Foye said the Spitzer administration also is focused on the importance of state Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno's passenger rail initiative and wants to improve service between New York City and Albany.