“At the end of the day we have to be louder than the pessimists.”
Steve Griffin, who serves as CEO of the Finger Lakes Economic Development Center, said the agency he leads serves a county that has seen surprising growth over the last 10 to 15 years. “It hasn’t been an accident,” he continued, adding that while some of the growth at first was surprising — the results speak for efforts that he and his staff have perpetuated for more than a decade.
“We’ve been out in the community. We’ve talked to community leaders, elected officials, representatives — all to create upbeat discussions around economic development. He explained that the tax incentives Industrial Development Agencies frequently take heat for issuing — are a direct result of New York State making it expensive to do business. “When we’re competing against other states, who have significantly lower taxes — the IDA’s were created to offset those higher-than-average ‘costs’ associated with doing business in New York.”
Griffin said that Yates County, for a long time in recent years experienced among the lowest unemployment rates in New York, despite the fact that wages were also among the lowest in the states.
He frames it in a way highlighting the fact that parts of the Finger Lakes are finding economic success — despite New York’s unfriendly business climate.
Yates County has even seen impressive growth in the manufacturing sector, which has been a difficult one to find success with in recent years. Griffin says the biggest challenge facing the region right now isn’t a lack of jobs. Instead, it’s a lack of workforce. That’s why he would like to see more effort at the state- and local-level put in with regard to workforce development.
Griffin pointed to hundreds of available jobs on the horizon for Yates County, but employers frequently remind him that the workforce — generally speaking — is ill-prepared to begin working immediately. “If you’re willing to learn, if you understand what modern manufacturing looks like — there are really good paying jobs available in the region,” he explained.
The positives highlighted by Griffin show the upward trend that the Finger Lakes region has experienced. Not only in the wine sector, but on the front of economic development as a whole.
Watch the entire interview in the video player below, or listen to the audio-only version in the media player below.