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Secretary Andrew Cuomo's Remarks in
Rochester, New York

Tuesday, October 10, 2000

Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor. First let me say hello to my colleagues, David Hayes, we've done a lot of good work together and I'm envious, David, that you get to be in New York today. Lorraine Miller, who, as the Mayor pointed out, has been a great federal public servant. She is now ahead of the Community Empowerment Board and we do a lot of work with her from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It's a pleasure to be with her. Representative from Congresswoman Louise Slaughter ?? she's a great Congresswoman. I knew that when I was in New York. I know it even more so now that I'm in Washington, D.C., because she is an extraordinary, extraordinary talent and you are lucky to have her. She's really one of the nation's best and I'm proud that she's a New Yorker.

And, Mayor, thank you very much for the kind introduction. This livability conference could have been any where in the United States. It's in Rochester for a reason. It's in Rochester because Mayor Johnson has been a leading voice nationwide on this very issue ?? the issue of livability ?? seeing, frankly, a different paradigm for urban growth. And, Mayor, your voice I've heard at the United States Conference of Mayors on a number of occasions. The United States Conference of Mayors ?? the USCM, it's called ?? is the convening of all the nation's mayors where they talk about the new upcoming ideas. And Mayor Johnson has been talking about this ever since I can remember. And he's always been ahead of the parade on this one. And thank you for your leadership, Mayor. It's really been prophetic. And now the cities are starting to catch up and I think the nation is going to be all the better for it. And I think the White House Task Force on Livable Communities really takes a lot of what Mayor Johnson has been talking about and brings it to the White House where the White House can serve as the convener, the facilitator of these concepts. And I don't think it could come at a better time.

Allow me for the intrusion of appearing by this technology, but it was an important event and I wanted to take just a couple of minutes, if I can, to be part of it.

First of all, upstate New York is a somewhat unique phenomenon in this nation today. At HUD, over the past 4 years, I've been stressing, as the Mayor said, the urban part of HUD, but the D ?? the development part of HUD ?? economic development ?? get the economy working in an area and then we wouldn't have to work out all these tangential issues ?? subsistence issues ?? subsidy issues. If the economy is working and people are working and the jobs are paying, then that's really the greatest government program. Because you wouldn't need any government programs.

And we've been focusing at HUD on the UD ?? the urban development. We interestingly do more economic development lending than any other federal department. We have about a $13 billion portfolio in economic development lending. These are loans made to private sector enterprises that generate jobs. And we've been very aggressive about it. We've done a lot of good work with it. The empowerment zones is one of those programs that does that, but we all sorts of economic development programs. The EDI ?? Economic Development Initiative program, et cetera ?? which are really economic tools. And we've been doing it all across the nation.

But when you get to upstate New York, it is a different phenomenon. In some ways the northeast has been more hard hit than other parts of the country in this economic transition. And we can't underestimate how we are still going through an economic transition. We tend to talk about the good news of the economic transition. We tend not to focus on the challenges. But they are very real. And while we've gone through the thrust of the manufacturing?to?high?tech shift, there is still a transition that's going on. And the northeast is still struggling, in my opinion, from that transition.

And upstate New York reflects the greatest challenges in many ways. Western Massachusetts, parts of Maine. You get the same types of challenges. But upstate New York, you really see it, you really feel it. The numbers on upstate New York really tell a bleak story in many ways. If upstate New York was an economy unto itself, it would be about 49th out of 50th in terms of economic growth. A troubling statistic to me is the M&T Bank, which is a big bank in upstate New York that is studied, that said basically our young people are leaving. That's troubling. Or our young people are planning to leave upstate New York because they don't see the future. So there is a significant economic challenge in upstate New York.

The good news is what you're sitting down to the table to talk about today. The good news is we understand it. And we have a different paradigm for now dealing with this. First of all, the paradigm says we have a happy partnership between the public and the private sectors. We almost have come full circle on this.

At one time we were talking about very liberal approaches to economic difficulties where the instinct was for government to come in and fill the vacuum that the private sector left. The private didn't work, then let government come in with government's programs and let government provide housing ?? a la public housing, and let government provide income a la AFDC and food stamps. That was one approach.

The extreme conservative approach, on the other hand, said well, if the private market didn't serve an area, then there's nothing we can do about it.

Both extremes failed. The paradigm in the middle ?? the partnership in the middle ?? says government, of course, has a role, but the role should be facilitating of the private sector. Government cannot do anything without the private sector. And the government's effort should be to get the private sector in and running and strong and that's the greatest role government can play. So the empowerment zone or the economic development programs ?? an incentive to bring the private sector a place that they would not have gone ?? an incentive for the private sector to provide a job they may not have provided. Yes, but the effort is always the private sector effort. That's the basic partnership paradigm that is working here. And it works. We've seen it work all across the country. We have to be aggressive about it in upstate New York. And that's why I'm excited about this convening.

But we've seen it work in states all across this nation. You can go talk to Long Beach, California ?? I was in a couple of weeks ago. They could be a city in upstate New York. This was a city that was basically dependent upon the defense industry. The base closed under base closings and they had to come up with an entirely new economic rationale. And government sat down with the private sector and they did it. Akron, Ohio, was another story?? a la the manufacturing era closed down. They were tire manufacturing and now they're ?? they're working on a new economy with polymers and research. Boise, idaho. Numerous examples of cities that have turned around the economy with this public?private sector partnership.

The second element of the new paradigm that we know is that it is really not about a city or a country. Lester Thurow from MIT came in and did one of the greatest presentations we've had here at HUD. We brought in what we called the big thinkers ?? people who would come in with paradigm shift type discussions. And Lester Thurow came in he looked at the HUD senior staff and he said what do you do? And the senior staff said well, we work with cities and counties. He said what's a city and what's a county? And why do such entities exist? And the senior staff got a little defensive and said well, a city is this and a county is this.

But Lester Thorow's point was the city as an entity, the county as an entity are less relevant today than ever before. They were created at a different time. The economy today, the social context today would define a different entity if you could do it all over again. You would never draw the City of Rochester line and the Country of Monroe line. You would come up with a regional entity. It would be a circle, if you will, rather than odd shaped squares and city boundaries. Why? Because that's not how our society is working. It's more akin to regional economies, regional living areas, regional environments, and that's the relevant entity. It is problematic because that's not how we relate. That's why Mayor Johnson's been so visionary on this point. We relate to city entities, county entities. That's where we tax. That's where we're elected. That's where we associate and affiliate. So it is truly an effort to get past that line, if you will. But it is no doubt correct.

The Rochester 2010 Plan, I think, does this extraordinarily well. It gets outside of the box literally. Gets beyond the boundary of the cities literally. And says we're going to have to talk about the Rochester community, the Monroe community. We're going to have to look at issues in that context. And once you have that context, then you start to see the issues that will fall in place.

You do it in the Rochester 2010 Plan, the Fast Ferry Regional Transportation ?? outside of the box transportation. Let's look at the waterways when we can. Mass transit when we can. But different venues of transportation. Different types of housing, and affordable housing, and gentrified housing. And 20/10 has a very aggressive plan in that regard. It's going to be HUD's pleasure to work with the City of Rochester hand in hand under the community partnership program to make 20/10 a reality.

And I'm looking forward to doing that because Rochester really is doing extraordinary things to begin with. When we talk about the upstate New York phenomenon, Rochester is the example of a different reality. They're doing much better than the other upstate cities are doing. It's not that Rochester doesn't have economic challenges, they do. There was a recent newspaper article just a couple of days ago about possible changes in Xerox and Bausch and Lomb, et cetera.

But Rochester, by and large, is doing better than the rest of the upstate economy. So I think there are many positive examples that we can look to from Rochester and that we can emulate for the rest of upstate New York. But it's going to be our pleasure to work with the 20/10 Plan because I think it really does take Rochester's example up one notch.

My last point is this. If there was a moment in history where the stars are aligned to actually do the things that we're talking about today, that moment is today. You have a new awareness that development for the sake of development is not going to work.

You have a new awareness that the environment is key, that we only have one planet and we cannot continue to consume. We consume 7,000 green acres per week. People understand that we can't do that. Global warming is an issue. Damage to the environment is an issue. And people understand that we have to do a U?turn on the development highway and we can't just continue to develop out and out and out ?? concentric circle after concentric circle. They get that.

We also have at this moment in history an intelligent partnership between government and the private sector that is non?ideological, it's non? political. It works. It's practical, it's pragmatic, it works. And people understand it works. And we have great examples nationwide of how well this partnership between government and the private sector works.

We also have at this moment an understanding that the lines on the map do not control our destiny. The Mayor of Rochester cannot affect the destiny of Rochester if he stays within the box. He needs to take that big step across the boundary line from the city to the county and forge that alliance because that's the only way he can make the changes he needs to for Rochester. And, likewise, the county executive of Monroe is going to understand that he's not going to make it unless he steps over the line and reaches into the city.

And you don't have twin destinies. You have one destiny. As goes the city, goes the county. As goes the county, goes the city and the future of Monroe and the future of Rochester are linked. And those alliances, those realities, are becoming more and more plain. Not just city/county frankly, but county and outlying county. Regions. The region will rise, or the region will fall. People are getting that.

Again, Mayor Johnson was at the forefront of it. But it is a different orientation than we're accustomed to, but it is a sine qua non for this type of undertaking.

And the last point is the federal government is with you 100 percent of the way. It is a different federal government, I believe, under this President and this Vice President. You have seen a re?invention. It understands how to help and it understands what it can't do. We also have a federal effort that is led to a national economy, a private sector economy, that is going great guns. And we have the strong economy. Now is the time to do these types of investments to bring the places that are left behind into the new millennium.

The old saying is that time to fix the hole in the roof is when the sun is shining. Well, the economic sun is now shining. Now is the time we should make these investments, make these changes in upstate New York, the areas that have been left behind.

Get everyone at the table. Come up with a new vision. Come up with a new plan and make it happen. And make it happen when you have the strong economy so you can invest, and companies are building, and businesses are growing and they're looking for expansion space, and they're looking for new workers. This is the time to do it. There's a confluence of events. I'm not saying it's easy, but I'm saying it is necessary, it is do?able.

And, by the way, it's going to make us all the stronger for it. Rochester does better, Buffalo does better, the State of New York does better, the nation does better. And that's what this is all about.

I wish I could be with you today, but it's a great undertaking. You're taking the first step down a great road of excitement and success and I'll be with you every step of the way.

Thank you.

Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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