Governor Andrew Cuomo has been very careful to pay attention to the long-running economic catastrophe in upstate New York. He has paid particular attention to the North Country, dominated, of course, by Adirondack Park, one of the greatest tracts of wilderness in the nation. Just last month, during a surprise visit to Lake Placid, the governor announced a deal that expanded the park by almost 70,000 acres. It will be the park’s largest expansion in almost 100 years.
That’s wonderful. But as the governor and his advisors know, the upstate economy requires more than preservation of the Adirondack region’s forests. The Great Lakes cities of Syracuse and Rochester have faded dramatically over the last few decades, and Buffalo is an economic basket case. Small towns in the North Country and elsewhere are on the verge of becoming ghost towns.
Upstate can’t make it on prisons, state colleges, and defense spending anymore. The state has to find wealth creators to replace the industries that have left the region or died off. Where is the next General Electric, the next Carrier, the next Kodak? These companies once employed tens of thousands, but as their payrolls shrank, so did the region’s economy.
New York can’t prosper without private investment upstate. It’s that simple.