Gov. Andrew Cuomo is banking on big infrastructure projects as one of the ways of fueling the state's economic rebound.


The governor has publicly focused largely on New York City-area projects, but business leaders in New York say smaller projects, especially in upstate New York, can have a similar effect. 


What You Need To Know

  • Cuomo wants infrastructure to fuel post-pandemic economy.

  • He met with President Trump to discuss the issue.

  • But some business leaders want Cuomo to also focus on smaller projects for water and sewer.


"Sewers, waste water infrastructure, there are significant needs that will not only improve our communities, but get New Yorkers back to work," said Michael Kracker, the executive director of Unshackle Upstate, a pro-business group. 

There is a chance to boost the pandemic-stricken economy by also reducing red tape and regulations for businesses that can make it costly to operate in New York, Kracker said. 

"These are things that we can do, while we're budget strapped, to actually reduce the cost of construction, and make sure the dollar can go a little bit further and get people back to work," Kracker said. 

Cuomo has repeatedly turned to the issue of large-scale infrastructure, putting his stamp on New York in a way similar to master builder Robert Moses in the last century. 

In the last 10 years, airports and train stations have been refurbished and a replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge was built, named after the governor's father.

Cuomo met with President Trump on Wednesday in Washington to discuss major infrastructure projects, mostly in the New York City area. He pitched them as a way of boosting an economy that has been frozen by the pandemic since March.

But Cuomo did not discuss many upstate-centric projects with the president. 

"I didn't want to seem too aggressive," he said. "I didn't want the other people in the room to dismiss me as a quinntesential New Yorker -- look at how much he's asking for, he's asking for too much."

New York's economic problems are broad: Tax revenue has largely dried up over the last two months and unemployment stands at 14.5 percent, slightly below the national average, but still an historic high. 

And it's not just infrastructure that should be a focus of the recovery, business leaders said.

The Business Council's Ken Pokalsky says the retail and hospitality sectors were badly damaged. 

"Small businesses of all shapes and sizes were hurt significantly particularly those in retail, hospitality," he said. "They are going to need help coming back."