If New York is to continue to lure high-tech manufacturers to the Empire State, there must be a capable workforce as well as a place for employees to live.
That’s why political leaders say workforce development must go hand-in-hand with economic development, and why Gov. Kathy Hochul is prioritizing the creation of 800,000 new homes across the state over the next decade.
“When I was growing up in Western New York, we [realized] that our greatest export was our young people,” Hochul said during a visit to Rochester on Monday. “They were heading to places like Texas and North Carolina and anywhere else they could live their dream.
“Now that doesn’t have to be the case.”
The state will make significant investments in the region to enhance workforce development, especially regarding technology jobs. Micron Technologies must be able to fill the 9,000 predicted jobs it will create over the next 20 years at a new facility in Syracuse, and Edwards Vacuum will be creating close to 600 jobs over the next decade at a new facility in Genesee County’s Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP).
Corning Inc. also is expanding advanced optics production in Fairport. All facilities require skilled workers, which is why Hochul has proposed $17 million in funding for Monroe Community College’s Applied Technologies Center.
“If we don’t educate the workers, the objective is not achieved,” Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado said during a virtual informational session with Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce members on Tuesday.
Said Assemblymember Harry Bronson (D-Rochester): “Every time we talk about economic development, we need to talk about workforce development.”
The state also will spend $45 million to create GO SEMI, the Governor’s Office of Semiconductor Expansion, Management and Integration.
GO SEMI will support the expansion of the semiconductor industry across Upstate New York, including the $319 million Edwards Vacuum facility.
“When companies think about where they want to go, they can come to a one-stop shop and have support finding out about federal and state incentives, where they’re going to get the workforce, how they can partner with a local community college to teach young people the skills that they’re going to be looking for,” Hochul said. “That’s how you corner the market, that’s how you become the pre-eminent place in the nation, if not the world, in semiconductor manufacturing.”
The governor’s plan to address the housing shortage — creating 800,000 new homes in 10 years — is based on benchmark requirements in three-year increments for all communities. There must be 1 percent growth every three years.
While there is a critical need for affordable housing, the housing mandate stretches the spectrum of classifications, from affordable and workforce to market rate and luxury.
It’s all part of keeping New Yorkers in New York.
“If they can’t find a place they can afford, they’re not going to stay,” Hochul said. “Now is the time to do this, so we don’t regret later on, when they’re actually ready to hire those people, that we don’t have the housing and the communities ready to embrace a tremendous opportunity to really change Upstate New York.”
To entice developers, Hochul said miles or red tape will be reduced, including zoning restrictions, though she didn’t provide specifics.
“Right now we have a housing crisis,” Hochul said. “There’s not enough housing and the prices are going way too high, and that’s a recipe for disaster when you’re trying to stimulate economic growth.”
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