Each year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo would gather local business leaders, chambers of commerce officials and state lawmakers for a awards-show style event that doled out millions of dollars in economic development grants.
His successor, Gov. Kathy Hochul, indicated Friday she's willing try to something different when it comes to state efforts to stimulate job growth, made all the more complicated amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
"Don't just keep it going because it's there," Hochul told the gathering at the annual Business Council meeting in Bolton Landing. "And we don't always have to burn it down and start over. Let's take the best."
The first change could be with the regional economic development councils, a system of award grants on a local basis from the state. It was a process championed by Cuomo, but one Hochul is willing to review.
"I don't feel constrained that's the model we have to stay with," she said. "I'm willing to hear from the members, all of you, should we be doing something differently."
Hochul was elevated to the governor's office a month ago following Cuomo's resignation. Since then she's had to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, reopening schools and major flooding. But soon she will be turning her attention to an economic development strategy.
New York shed 2 million jobs during the early weeks of the pandemic. Last month, the state's jobless rate was 7.4%, nearly double the unemployment since before the start of the crisis.
"I don't want to dictate from Albany," she said. "I started in local government. I didn't like it when government was telling me what to do all the time."
Hochul told business leaders she wants to attract high-tech companies and chip manufacturers to New York. But details were elusive, including what she would do for the state's tax climate. A budget plan is not due from Hochul until early next year.
"I'm going to do what it takes to draw businesses here that I think will be good for the New York economy and create jobs," she said.
But business leaders, including the Business Council's Heather Briccetti, said Hochul's approach of listening to them first is important.
"I was really interested to hear her say 'I want to hear from your members' and get suggestions on how to change it and improve it," she said.