Through the Governor’s leadership we are beginning to address the broad area of unfunded mandates which are plaguing our schools, communities and businesses.   In addition, we also need to address regulatory reform and accelerate the growth opportunities that we do have.  It is a tall order for New York State and a little context may help.

Unshackle Upstate and the Manhattan Institute have done a lot of work to quantify many of the changes we require.   Having a few facts helps one to assess the barrage of strong opinions that always come forth in this state.  Another source of information is the recent book “The Coming Jobs War” by Jim Clifton, Chairman of Gallup.  The Gallup organization literally has the pulse of the world.  The number one desire across the globe is a good job and we need 1.8 billion new jobs to meet the need.  Clifton predicts America’s next war is the war for jobs and that the jobs issue will dwarf all the other issues we are dealing with.  He also illustrates that most of our job growth is from small businesses.

So, how well does New York State rate with small businesses and entrepreneurs?  The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council performs a yearly survey on this very question.  They rate 44 government or government related cost factors affecting small business and entrepreneurs.  Sadly, New York State has the poorest ranking of the fifty states.  We are entering the most competitive period for good jobs from a last place position.  The book describes expected results for countries that do not fare well in this jobs war.  The results dwarf anything we are currently considering in unfunded mandate relief.

 I believe Upstate New York is in a jobs war.  I also believe the Governor when he states that jobs have to be priority one.  One goal could be to improve our ranking in the small business survey from 50 to 20 by 2020.  This level of improvement would take an enormous amount of focus, effort, skill, cooperation and cultural change.  Are we up for the challenge or will we become a casualty of war?

We also need to go forward with a sense of urgency.  Each day we should be reporting on some progress from a new incentive, a streamlined regulation, a new alliance or a positive step in reducing unfunded mandates.  Our progress should be measured against a set of metrics as opposed to rhetoric.  The recent decision of BAE to stay in our area was the result of a high level of cooperation and a sense of urgency.  What’s next and how can we help?

– Jeff Smith