Date: January 22, 2008
CONTACT: Jeffrey Gordon


Governor Eliot Spitzer Executive Budget proposes a $1 billion Upstate Revitalization Fund that will promote economic growth and opportunity throughout Upstate New York and help make the region a better place to live, work, raise a family and run a business. 

“When I took office, it was clear Upstate New York needed a new approach to economic development,” said Governor Spitzer. “This budget provides a targeted and strategic plan for growth, which will help create jobs and unlock that region’s great potential.”

The $1 billion Upstate Revitalization Fund proposed in the Executive Budget is comprised of several components, each of which is targeted to a specific initiative that is critical for promoting economic expansion. Building on the City-by-City and Regional Blueprint efforts begun this year by Governor Spitzer, it will help make the region more attractive to growing businesses and talented employees by making key investments in housing, transportation, parks, as well as initiatives to make more capital available to businesses. They include:

Regional Blueprint Fund ($350 million): Reflecting the need to move away from a “one-size-fits-all” approach to Upstate economic development, the Executive Budget creates a $350 million Regional Blueprint Fund, which will be used to take advantage of the unique assets possessed by each part of New York.

City by City Investments ($115 million):  This new funding will support the Governor’s historic commitment announced last year to break gridlock on several critical economic development projects throughout Upstate’s cities

Housing Opportunity Fund ($100 million):  Increasing the availability of affordable housing is a crucial means of attracting the talented employees growing businesses need. As part of this revitalization initiative, $100 million will be dedicated to the development of affordable, supportive, and workforce housing projects throughout Upstate.

Transportation and Intercity Passenger Rail ($130 million):  In order to help maintain the critical infrastructure that connects our cities, towns, and villages, $100 million is provided to preserve New York’s network of State and local bridges, along with $30 million to improve the reliability of rail connections between Upstate and New York City. 

Rebuilding Our Parks ($80 million): To draw residents, tourists, and private investment, resources will be provided for Upstate projects that help transform our natural treasures, including State parks, campgrounds, fairgrounds, historic sites, and other facilities.

Agricultural Development Fund ($50 million): This funding will support the continued growth of the food and agricultural industry by encouraging investments that promote the development of alternative fuel products, access to markets, and improvements in farm and agricultural infrastructure.

Other Initiatives ($175 million): Additional funding will also be provided as part of the Upstate Revitalization Fund to finance:

  • $100 million for an Investment Opportunity Fund – a competitive grant program for investment capital administered by the Empire State Development Corporation;
  • $12 million to expand and improve our state’s arts and cultural assets;
  • $7 million to expand the Universal Broadband initiative;
  • $3.5 million for a business marketing program targeting Upstate;
  • $3 million for venture capital investments
  • $12 million to enhance existing state programs supporting the development of high technology;
  • $38 million for other Empire State Development Corporation investment and job creation programs.

This $1 billion Upstate Revitalization Fund will be supported by the issuance of $612 million of Personal Income Tax (PIT) bonds. The remaining $388 million will be financed on a pay-as-you-go basis with $130 million in proceeds from the sale of surplus State property; $100 million from Mortgage Insurance Fund reserves; $100 million generated from an increase in auto insurance surcharge revenues; and $58 million from General Fund dollars.

Other key economic development measures contained in the Executive Budget include:

Low Cost Power: Extending the two primary State power programs — Power for Jobs, and Energy Cost Savings Benefit — through June 30, 2009. After that time, a new power program will be created that targets these benefits to industries in which electricity is the primary component of overall costs and rewards companies with the greatest commitment to job creation and energy efficiency with up to seven-year contracts.

Brownfields Reform: Revising the existing State Brownfields program to ensure funds are available for critical environmental remediation and economic development projects.

Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI): The Department of Motor Vehicles will provide optional enhanced drivers licenses and non-driver photo identification cards at an additional cost of $20, to be designated by the U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as WHTI-compliant documents, for land and sea travel border crossings.