Howard Zemsky, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s newly minted economic development chief, was on Long Island recently to hob and nob with pols and local business leaders. In a speech to a smaller-than-we-would-have-expected crowd at the Long Island Association, Zemsky reminded listeners that he’s really one of us – born in Brooklyn but raised in Woodbury, which qualifies – and that Long Island and Western New York share much in common.
OK, not much, but this: The continuing loss of young people, which he rightly blamed on a lack of good-paying jobs and cool, affordable communities.
Left unsaid is where the two regions don’t share space, which is in the area of state funding. Buffalo, famously, has been showered with $1 billion in state support for technology-related projects, and would share in another $1.5 billion Cuomo is sending send north and northwest in the new state budget.
When asked, Zemsky seemed downright defensive on that point, noting that Buffalo had helped bail out NYC in the 1970s and that governor’s current largesse is only temporary. Those billions for Buffalo aren’t intended as a “perpetual bailout,” he noted. “The whole idea is to create a sustainable economy through some of these investments.”
If there’s a “wait your turn” in that, we’ll take it. But investing in Long Island’s innovation economy now – before it reaches a future economic bailout – would make so much more sense.