Jenna Flanagan / WMHT

This week we take an in-depth look at the impact the minimum wage increase could have on workers and small businesses in New York. This special report is part of an ongoing public media reporting initiative called 'Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America' which provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.

Homelessness in upstate

Mar 28, 2016

The number of homeless New Yorkers seems to be on the rise, so much so that earlier this year a group of millionaires petitioned the state government to raise their taxes permanently from 7.65% to nearly 10% to aid those living in poverty.

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.