Like much of Upstate, economic recovery hasn’t reached Southern Tier

In Sunday’s Binghamton Press Sun-Bulletin, reporter Jeff Platsky writes, “An economic black hole cuts through the middle of New York state.

“The nationwide economic recovery has largely bypassed an area from Utica-Rome to Syracuse and down to Binghamton and Elmira. Only Ithaca has pulled ahead and added jobs during the past 10 years.

“While metropolitan regions in the nation were boosting private-sector job counts at a brisk clip since the recession’s end, the job hemorrhage continued across central New York. And the situation may get worse before showing any signs of improvement.

An analysis of private sector employment in New York State last year by The Public Policy Institute (PPI) found jobs in the manufacturing sector declined by more than 40 percent during the period from November 2008 and November 2014.

“Job growth in upstate has lagged,” said Heather C. Briccetti, chief executive of the Albany-based The Business Council of New York. “And the losses have been in the higher wage sectors.”

“The loss of manufacturing jobs has killed upstate,” Briccetti said. “The business climate has made it very difficult to do business in upstate,” citing taxes, utility costs and regulations as the reasons for the flight of manufacturing jobs.”

In his article, Platsky points out the Southern Tier will have to find ways to reuse abandoned industrial sites for new development, possibly by using some of the $1.5 billion pledged for Upstate redevelopment in the Executive Budget.

A strategic plan being developed by the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council passes on a return to the manufacturing base. Rather, it values a knowledge-based approach concentrating on developing new industry around Binghamton University research, energy and pharmaceuticals, also centered on the university’s new pharmacy school now on the drawing board for Johnson City.

“Like it or not, the Southern Tier is going to have to transition to a new model,” said Gary Keith, a Buffalo-based economist for M&T Bank, adding that any future economic improvement will come in “singles and doubles, not home runs.”

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