Institute Forum

Summary: New York Wins and Loses in a Global Economy November 4, 2011

New York Wins and Loses in a Global Economy

No other state has benefited more — nor suffered worse — from economic globalization than New York.

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Nancy Zimpher
Garrick Utley
Jonathan Bowles
Panel
Q&A

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That is both one of the major findings of a new report called New York in the World, and a key reason its authors at the SUNY Levin Institute and the Center for an Urban Future sought to investigate the impact of globalization on New York.

“That alone makes it a very important laboratory or a ‘macro microcosm’ for the nation,” said Levin Institute President Garrick Utley. “The extremes are here, greater than anywhere else, from Wall Street bonuses to what’s happened in much of postindustrial upstate.”

Utley and Jonathan Bowles, director of the Center for an Urban Future, were joined by State University of New York Chancellor Nancy Zimpher at the Rockefeller Institute on November 4 as part of an initiative to engage government officials and the public in a discussion of the report’s findings. Their objective was to encourage policymakers to consider the ways the state could leverage its assets in an increasingly competitive world.

“What strikes me about this report is not only the data, the findings, the facts, but the pathway to implementing strategies to success,” Zimpher said. “That’s the magic combination.”

As to the extremes Utley mentioned, consider these findings from the report:

Despite the assets that have worked to New York’s advantage, Bowles said, the city and state cannot afford to rest on their laurels, but must continue to work to maintain global competitiveness.

“New York State cannot stand still,” he said. “We’ve got to acknowledge that there’s this intense competition and it’s only going to get stronger.”

The report’s recommendations for the future include:

Susan Arbetter, Capitol correspondent for WCNY, moderated a panel of experts who discussed the report in the context of current events, such as protests decrying economic inequality and high unemployment, and recent initiatives to attract business to New York.

Donald Siegel, dean of the University at Albany’s School of Business, expressed support for the financial services industry in light of Occupy Wall Street.

“I want to staunchly defend Wall Street and the financial services industry from this onslaught, because as pointed out in their report, financial services is one of New York’s most vital and important industries,” Siegel said. “It’s a major job creator, and it’s an industry where we have a global competitive advantage.”

Asked how to persuade people displaced from their jobs by globalization to buy in to the report’s recommendations, Bowles said, “There’s also got to be a real focus from economic development officials not just on overall economic growth, which is important, but at really trying to figure out if there’s ways to create jobs in middle-income sectors, or buy more short-term workforce development training, which has been cut badly in recent decades.”

Asked about state subsidies made to companies to attract them to New York, panelist Heather Briccetti said such assistance has been necessary because the high cost of doing business in New York places the state at an economic disadvantage. But subsidies are not the permanent solution, she added.

“To have to lure a company with a large state-side investment is not ideal, it’s not sustainable,” said Briccetti, who is acting president and CEO of the Business Council of New York State. “What we need to do is fix the business climate from the ground up.”


ABOUT THE ROCKEFELLER INSTITUTE OF GOVERNMENT

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, the public policy research arm of the State University of New York, conducts fiscal and programmatic research on American state and local governments. It works closely with federal, state, and local government agencies nationally and in New York, and draws on the State University’s rich intellectual resources and on networks of public policy academic experts throughout the country.