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Slow the exodus; State has to improve business climate in order to stabilize population

It's painful to read about the steady stream of people leaving New York State, as documented in a recent think tank report, and especially painful for those living in areas such as Western New York that are shrinking fastest.

Part of the solution to such outmigration is in the hands of state lawmakers, who could further the governor's agenda of change designed to create a more business-friendly environment. Keeping businesses here means keeping jobs -- and residents -- here.

The Empire Center for New York State Policy found that 1.6 million New York residents moved to other states between 2000 and 2010. The numbers totaled more than the populations of Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, White Plains and West Babylon combined. From a percentage perspective, New York suffered the greatest loss of residents to other states.

Outmigration is nothing new in New York State. For years people have been moving to the South and West, but perhaps no place is as tempting these days as Texas, with its superlative job numbers.

From June 2009 to June 2011, Texas added 262,000 jobs, or half the nation's 524,000 jobs gained, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Thirty-four states showed a net gain in jobs, and Texas accounted for 30 percent of that gain.

Unsurprisingly, Texas is not shy about bragging about those numbers. So would we, if only we had them.

The Lone Star State makes it easy to build projects, with lower construction and operating costs and less-rigorous regulatory requirements.

Here in New York, the State Legislature is the primary hindrance to business development. It's certainly not the only cause; both Republican and Democratic governors over the years have contributed to the problem. And local governments have made it difficult for businesses to thrive by adding their own levels of taxation and regulatory requirements as well as taking too much time to deliver the permits necessary for projects to go forward.

It's easier for companies to go to North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas, where there is an inventory of shovel-ready sites, already permitted and ready to go.

New York's situation is improving under new Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, but he has to deal with 50 years of history that seems to say that every step forward with respect to economic development is met with two steps backward. Cuomo's challenge will be to prevent special interests from imposing those two steps back.

New York has created more jobs than the average for the rest of the country during recent months.

The Public Policy Institute of New York State, quoting data from the New York Department of Labor, says private sector jobs in May and June increased 0.2 percent in New York, compared to an increase of just 0.1 percent across the nation. In addition, New York State's unemployment rate is considerably lower, at 8 percent in June, than the national average, 9.2 percent.

That's a welcome change of direction for this state under a new governor who tackled structural budget problems by cutting spending, not raising taxes or borrowing.

This state's job growth is coming through more involvement by universities -- in economic development, spinning off businesses, creating start-up companies and making their intellectual property more available through partnerships with the private sector.

More has to be done, including recognizing that much of the growth will occur in existing businesses. Focusing resources and economic strategies on homegrown businesses will build New York as a place to remain, or even move into.

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