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The Upstate Economy
What upstate NY needs to do to stay relevant in global economy
The chairman of the worldwide accounting firm PWC, formerly called Pricewaterhouse Coopers, has roots right here in central New York. Bob Moritz is a graduate of SUNY Oswego and visited the campus last week to speak about the global economy. WRVO's Catherine Loper spoke with Moritz about how those trends apply to the economic situation in upstate New York.
Bob Moritz: I think New York state’s at an interesting dichotomy right now. You’ve got things that are happening in the New York City-ish and surrounding area, where they are trying to look for those areas of growth through continued innovation. And just to use one example, trying to mirror what Silicon Valley does and actually get tech houses to come in. And it’s for purposes of innovation and creativity and new wave organizations be resident in New York, but it’s also to benefit, how can they influence then other corporates in New York. When you look at the rest of the state, you are in to, again, unfortunately, an interesting dynamic around the trends and what has impacted the upstate area. So this goes back to, are the consumers there, are the employers there, are the corporates there? Some of the corporates are retreating as they think about consolidation, they’re thinking about tax implications, they’re thinking about the ease of doing business. And one of the challenges in New York, has always been, are there too many rules and regulations compared to other states that warrant manufacturing companies and service companies to want to be there. So I think two things have to happen. One is the aspect of innovation in local businesses, small businesses that are prevailing in upstate New York have got to continue to innovate and continue to try to grow from a local perspective. But the second area of innovation that’s got happen is actually our own governments. State, local municipalities have got to be more creative in terms of business of old – old rules, old laws, old tax requirements have got to change as well to be, remain, relevant. Why? Because there’s other states, and now other countries that are willing to actually create a more interesting environment for our companies to want to invest and be.
Catherine Loper: Are there specific things that you think New York states, or other states in the U.S., can do in those areas to promote small, big, medium business growth?
Moritz: Yeah, the U.S. economy has always thrived when that small, medium business opportunity has gotten the incentive to invest and gotten the confidence to do it. You look at any, I’ll call it, city, and you’re looking for, do I have the right resources, which come off of college campuses? Do you have the right incentives for people to want to stay? Do you have the motivation where government and business work together to actually create the next opportunity? What’s the man on the moon statement that we want to make here? And where do we want everybody to work towards that makes it an unbelievable city for health care? Or an unbelievable city for innovation in the technology space. Or an unbelievable city that should be thinking about how do we connect with manufacturers more, differently, because we can leverage logistics coming off the Great Lakes. There’s lots of different things, but it’s got to be a combined community – which is the community, government and the business – coming together to say, ‘what should we be over the next 10 years?’ And then really putting together the policies and procedures in place to get there.
Loper: Do you think cities should maybe specialize in certain things? Like health care? Or Albany has had the tech centers come, and do you think that would help?
Moritz: I do think that would help. I think it’s give almost a guiding post to corporates that potentially want to go there, educators that are providing talent, and the government to put policies in place to try to move in that kind of direction. So it gives you this long term relevancy and a determination and a focal point for people to then strive for. If you’re too diverse and too dispersed, then you’re all about everything and standing for nothing.