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Polishing the “new” in New York

Beyond our natural and self-made resources, New York has a wealth of creative minds and energetic individuals with a common goal: to put ideas into action. Gradually, people with bold innovations, unique concepts or technological wizardry are taking risks. Through their efforts the “new” in New York is beginning to shine all over again, and our state is beginning to regain eminence in the global community.
Like much of the northeastern United States, New York still faces significant challenges to climb out of a recessionary economic slump. A complicated global marketplace now affects everything from local employment trends to the stock market, interest rates and inflation. Corporate “right-sizing” continues to cause New York to lose jobs, particularly in manufacturing, to regions across the nation and the world that offer lower tax burdens and cheaper energy costs.
Despite the complexity of factors affecting the state’s ability to prosper, New York’s wealth of resources is beginning to be rediscovered and fully developed. While many corporate giants downsize their organizations and refine their expensive overhead operations, the highly motivated and educated populace of New York is turning pink slips into golden opportunities. Homespun ingenuity combined with new technology and an entrepreneurial spirit is the fuel driving our state’s economy.
Among the best contributors to the state’s economic recovery are: innumerable spin-off businesses and services for high-tech computer industries; research projects coordinated with the state’s vast university system; the introduction of new national retailers; tourism; infrastructure rebuilding; and expansion of services in finance, insurance and real estate.
In the past, it was big, blue-chip corporations, such as Eastman Kodak Co., IBM Corp., General Electric Corp. and Xerox Corp., that created many of the state’s new jobs. Today, small to midsize businesses can take the credit for fostering the largest percentage of employment growth.
As an independent agency of the federal government, the Small Business Administration has numerous programs available to assist people in running successful small businesses. From loans to counseling, advocacy to technology training, the SBA exists to serve the interest of small businesses.
In the fiscal year ended in October, the SBA guaranteed 2,331 loans to small businesses in New York totaling more than $550 million. With the help of commercial lending institutions, the level of financial support for small businesses also has been growing rapidly. Since 1990-91, there has been an 18 percent increase in both the number of loans approved and the amount of money borrowed.
Like many financial institutions, Key Bank of New York recognizes the important role lenders must play to help New York’s economy recover. It also understands that loaning money to small and mid-size businesses does much more than help balance the books.
To many young businesses, a loan represents an act of faith, an expression of credibility and a contract on the future. The money provides necessary capital for business growth, and it combines the intelligences, creativity and the vision of very different, but equally important, forces. Through investments, those with innovative ideas and those with the capital to support them are focused progressively on tomorrow.
Unquestionably, the most dynamic new force in New York’s economy is export trade in the global marketplace. During 1993, more than $36 billion worth of goods were exported from the state, making it third in the nation in export trade. From 1987 through 1993, exports grew 37.7 percent, and the gross state product represented by exports rose from 5 percent in 1987 to 8.8 percent in 1993.
More than 21 percent of our 1993 exports were shipped northward; Canada currently is our best trading partner. Passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993, and the pending expansion of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, promise to open new markets and enlarge existing ones.
The new attitude in our state is being driven in large part by export trade and small-business ventures, but it will be strongly influenced by state government. Businesses are enthusiastic about Gov. George Pataki’s intentions to reduce the cost of doing business in New York by combining regulatory relief with tax reductions, and tighter controls on state and local government spending. These measures will spark the entrepreneurial spirit of our citizens and help create an environment that is conducive to growth and expansion.
Look around you–all across the state you’ll see New Yorkers committed to building strong, prosperous communities through economic growth. Whether it’s a new fish market in Dunkirk, a digital imaging bureau in Buffalo, a boutique in Syracuse’s Armory Square, or educational reforms that include creative partnerships between private and public sectors, the “new” in New York is shining through. The resources are everywhere if you have an idea that’s ready for reality.
(James P. Menzies is president and CEO of Key Bank of New York.)

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