Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to visit Albany on Tuesday to give a speech on economic development at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Statewide Regional Council Conference.
The Empire State Plaza Convention Center will host the all-day event bringing together the 10 Regional Economic Development Councils, which are competing for $200 million in funding and tax incentives.
For a conference revolving around job creation and improving the economy, Union College Assistant Professor Bradley Hays argued that the choice of Clinton made sense. As evidence, Hays cited the fact that the nation’s unemployment rate was about 7.4 percent when Clinton went into office and dropped to about 4 percent when he left.
“He had an amazing record in terms of job creation in his eight years in the White House,” he said. “He created roughly 23 million jobs while in office.”
Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Chairman Tom Wood suggested that Clinton’s track record of success would be particularly applicable to the state’s new approach to economic development. “A lot of the procedures that the Regional Economic Development Councils are following are procedures that were used at the federal level and done quite successfully,” Wood said. “Many of the things that he implemented were successful and I think he wants to share them with us.”
While these economic plans were being implemented, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was serving in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, eventually rising to HUD secretary. Hays said this indicates the two politicians share a similar view of economic development. He cited their view that government can create the conditions for job growth and the importance they place on private-public partnerships.
Since leaving the presidency in 2001, Clinton has gotten back into the job creation game and has been offering his 14 policies to getting the economy back on track. One of those policies involves the retrofitting of old buildings, which would meet two criteria endorsed by the Capital Region Economic Council: employing New Yorkers and improving existing infrastructure. “Some of the policies would work perfectly well on the state level,” Hays said.
He added that Clinton’s tax policies during his tenure were also responsible for his success and could be realized in New York. He said Clinton initially cut taxes for low-income families and small businesses, which were in conjunction with a tax increase on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. These policies, though, are beyond the scope of the councils and contrast with Cuomo’s firm opposition to raising any taxes.
A spokeswoman for the Empire State Development Corporation noted that President Clinton will not be getting paid for his appearance. This is in sharp contrast to his last appearance in the Capital Region, when he raked in $200,000 for a speech at the University of Albany in the spring.
To attend the conference, people must enter a lottery by Friday at nyworks.ny.gov.
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