In the 2017 fiscal year, New York's Industrial Development Agencies reported providing a net of $751 million in tax exemptions, up 5 percent from the previous year.

"Upstate New York is doing a little bit better with the IDAs than they were from the previous reports," SUNY Buffalo State Economics Chair Fred Floss said.

Nearly 4,400 active IDA projects have reported creating a net gain of roughly 200,000 full-time jobs. Forty-nine percent of those came from Upstate, up from 43 percent in 2016.

"Obviously there are a lot more people in the New York City/Long Island/Westchester area so you'd expect a few more projects to be done down there," Floss said. "But if we're talking about what does New York State need, where does the economic growth need to happen? It needs to happen in Upstate."

Floss said there are encouraging signs in the state comptroller's report and believes much of that can be attributed to Regional Economic Development Councils, which have stopped many of the more than 100 IDAs from regularly competing against each other.

"To the extent that IDA projects are becoming more regional, that's a good thing and hopefully we're starting to see better jobs being created from the councils as opposed to these small IDAs," he said.

However, Floss believes the report still leaves open questions about the value of giving long-term tax incentives to companies. He pointed out services such as retail, health care and recreation still account for 25 percent of the jobs. He said those positions are often not new to the region and just move from one business to another.

"In a lot of cases, companies, whether you're going to give them an IDA (incentive) or not really has no influence on their final decisions. So we're giving them tax breaks when they're either going to stay here or come here and essentially what we're doing is shortchanging schools and roads," Floss said.

He believes elected leaders and governments may be compelled to support tax breaks as deal sweeteners because saving or creating jobs makes for good headlines.

"If you're worried about property taxes, if you're worried about potholes, then maybe you want to be a little bit more critical about IDAs," Floss said.