Top business, labor and elected officials in the Rochester area were at the state Capitol today for their yearly lobbying push, seeking more state aid for the community and changes to state regulations.
The Rochester Community Coalition started seven years and aims to give Rochester one voice with the governor’s office and state lawmakers. The effort was established to get Rochester state aid on par with other upstate cities. Rochester still receives less per capita, but the disparity is less than it was in 2006.
“The uniqueness of the coalition is you have city and county, Republicans and Democrats, labor and business, all focused and talking the same message,” said Sandy Parker, president of the Rochester Business Alliance. “We think it has made a difference with our local delegation and with folks on the second floor.”
Rochester Mayor Tom Richards, a Democrat, and Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, a Republican, were on the trip. They met with state lawmakers, legislative leaders and Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, the city’s former mayor.
The group is still seeking more state aid and wants to beat back Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to strip local Industrial Development Agencies of their authority to give state sales-tax breaks to businesses. The authority would rest with the state’s regional development councils under the Democratic governor’s plan.
Brooks said the change would be bad for local governments and their ability to lure new businesses. Brooks said 17 of 18 projects with tax-exemption deals in the city would be prohibited under Cuomo’s plan, which would restrict the types of businesses that would be eligible for the breaks.
“Just those small changes in the way the program is applied and how you can qualify for the program would impact our ability significantly to retain and create thousands of jobs in Monroe County,” Brooks said.
Richards has warned against the deterioration of upstate cities. He said if cities continue to face fiscal declines, it would impact the entire surrounding region.
“If we’re not successful as a city, all of these efforts for economic development, all of it is going to go to waste,” Richards said.