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Upstate czar is committed to this area1

This past February, Gov. Eliot Spitzer appointed me to lead Upstate Empire State Development Corp. with responsibility for all of Upstate New York. Since then, I've traveled thousands of miles from Buffalo to Albany, the Southern Tier to the North Country listening and learning about the unique needs of each community.

Current conversation about my month-to-month lease in the Capital District is a distraction aimed at having you believe the governor and I are not totally committed to regions like Western New York, and upstate overall. And I understand why the threat of a lack of commitment would be upsetting; it's what upstate communities have lived with for far too long. But it's different now.

To set the record straight, I have had a realtor in Buffalo since March, and plan to rent something here until my daughter graduates from high school next year. For now, she has the difficult task of having her father live in New York and her mother live in Pennsylvania, but we all look forward to the day when we can come together to replant our family's upstate roots (my wife, incidentally, grew up upstate).

It is critical for me to be on the ground in upstate communities, which is precisely what I've done, and will continue to do. It is also important for me to spend time in Albany each week so I can make sure upstates issues are vigorously represented.

I became keenly aware of your frustration with politics as usual in New York State long before becoming a political target myself. Buffalo and all of upstate for that matter have felt left behind by the robust growth experienced downstate. That's why I've accepted this great challenge, and am doing so bolstered by community leaders and committed business owners who believe this is upstate's time.

The people I've met since February want our newly formed office to be successful because the better my team is at their jobs, the more prosperity everyone will enjoy. That's one reason the upstate headquarters includes born and bred Western New Yorkers who know this area and are committed to helping it grow and prosper.

And good things are already happening in Western New York. Projects big and small are underway, thanks to the commitment of corporations, individuals and small groups of committed neighbors.

Astute developers are advancing development along Delaware Avenue, in industrial areas, near the waterfront and around the Buffalo Niagara Medical Center. Just a few weeks ago we announced that GM will be investing $100 million in its Tonawanda plant, ensuring 150 jobs will stay here. Citicorp is building a new $26 million global payment center and has pledged to bring 600 jobs to Amherst.

State leaders have reduced property taxes, reformed workers compensation and begun to drive down business taxes and operating costs.

That's all a great start. Not an end, or even a half-way point. You want more as you should and so do I. To accomplish that, I need your help and support. I also hope that you will be open-minded, and judge me not for the gamesmanship of partisan politics, but for the strategic direction we develop together for upstate -- and most importantly, the results it brings.



Upstate Empire State Development

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