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NY Governor, HUD Secretary Speak At Sustainable Development Conference

This morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the HUD secretary spoke at the Capital Region Sustainable Development Conference in Schenectady.

Speaking to his successor in the position, HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Cuomo told the gathering his version of the story of upstate New York's struggle for parity with New York City:  how the economy suffered through decades of decline — downstate legislators looked the other way as manufacturing collapsed, the western New York steel industry and companies such as IBM, Xerox and Kodak fell like dominoes.   "When I came in we reversed that 180 degrees. And we said, we pointed to the truth, which was upstate New York had gotten the short end of the stick for a long time, and we were gonna right that wrong. It was also unintelligent from downstate New York's point of view because we're one state. And if upstate doesn't do well, then downstate doesn't do well because they're going to be paying the cost anyway. So investing in upstate New York, investing in the corporations that are doing well, makes sense for the overall corporation. And our methodology was simply called now the REDC's Regional Economic Development Corporations. REDC's, which were Regional Economic Development Coalitions. Private business, top business leaders, top academic leaders, top political leaders, in a regional context all with a, putting together a plan for sustainable economic development longterm that the state would partner in."

Cuomo assured the gathering that money is available to fund businesses statewide.  Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan is a fellow Democrat:  "I know that there are a lot of concerns about what type of funding resources are gonna be available for cities as we move forward into the next four years."

Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen agreed, adding that sustainability means so much more than "environmentally sound."    "It means providing energy into a community. Building coalitions. Building comprehensive plans that the whole community can get around and build pride, but also investing, and so we are always looking for new investments in Saratoga Springs, but we're also looking for that passage of assets to continue, in the cultural world, in the sports world, and also in the housing market, and that will be one of my next big initiatives, will be to create a plan, a long-term plan, for adding affordable housing to the Saratoga market."

Taking the podium after Cuomo, Secretary Castro told the crowd that the nation has made "tremendous progress" during Barack Obama's eight years as president, with more jobs created and more access to health care along with a housing recovery, which still has a ways to go.   "What we see in the United States in cities big and small is an affordable housing crisis. And I'm proud to say that New York has been ambitious in meeting that crisis."

Castro went on to commend local and state officials:  "We need to keep working, in towns, in cities, in states and in the United States, because not all communities have shared equally in this robust recovery. As y'all know, many still face challenges. This region has an impressive record, particularly under the governor's leadership of economic development and reinvention, backed up by an even more impressive labor force. Governor Cuomo's support of upstate New York's economic recovery is well-known."

The conference is one of a series of regional symposiums bringing government, public and private sector groups together. Making a rare Capital Region appearance following the end of the legislative session in June, Cuomo left without taking questions from reporters.

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