An upstate business group is seeking tax cuts for small businesses in the New Year, and opposing Governor Cuomo’s plan to phase in a minimum wage hike to $15 an hour. Unshackle Upstate’s Greg Biryla says while portions of  the economy have improved somewhat, including the Albany and Buffalo regions, wide swaths of the Southern Tier, North Country, and Mohawk Valley continue to stagnate, and have lost jobs.

“We’ve seen some incremental improvement in the upstate economy over the last several years,” said Biryla. “But we have to stop defining success by less failure.”

Three of seven regions in competition in upstate New York were awarded $500 million dollars each in economic development money, in a contest by Governor Cuomo that critics have called the “hunger games”.

The annual awards ceremony,  took on a game show atmosphere, with lots of slick videos, and an enthusiastic announcer.

The three winning regions Rochester- Finger Lakes, Central New York, and the Southern Tier, each received $500 million dollars each in economic development money, phased in over a five year period.

Next week, Governor Cuomo is scheduled to hand out more than two billion dollars in economic development funds to regional groups.  But a budget watchdog group says there needs to be better measurements to show how many jobs have actually been created and retained.

  Governor Cuomo announced he’s raising the minimum wage for state workers to $15 an hour.  That did not stop advocates from protesting at the Dunkin Donuts at the state Capitol, saying the governor’s  recent phased in wage increase for fast food workers is too slow.

Cuomo, at a union rally in New York City, announced he’ll raise the minimum wage for state workers to  $15 an hour by 2018 in New York City and 2021 in the rest of the state.

Matt Ryan

  Political and private sector leaders from around the state are spending three days at the Capitol, making their best case to win a share of $1.5 billion dollars in economic development monies for their region. Critics have called the competition the “hunger games”, because, under the rules, three regions will win, but four others will lose out on the funds.

Perhaps the most ambitious plan presented by the regions competing for the money may be returning the Olympics to New York.