Focusing on Transportation Improvements Enhances New York State’s Brand

As federal lawmakers have struggled for years to ensure sustainable funding for the nation’s increasingly strained transportation network, infrastructure investment and new transportation projects continue to receive heightened attention, and some states are taking bold steps.

To court businesses, attract visitors, and promote its economic-development savoir-faire, New York is emphasizing infrastructure investment in its “New New York” campaign. In April, a colorful and fast-paced advertisement began running on local television stations and cable news networks.

The ad featured transportation projects. They included the Syracuse Hancock International Airport and Rochester International Airport, which are both undergoing major terminal upgrades to enhance the passenger experience; the iconic Kosciuszko Bridge, which was first opened in 1939 and is being replaced; and Moynihan Station, a project expanding Penn Station into the historic James A. Farley Post Office that is part of a mixed-use redevelopment strategy.

The focus on transportation projects is part of a larger effort, ushered in by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to enhance the perceptions of New York State. In addition to highlighting infrastructure investment, the state is promoting its jobs market and talent pool, its financial stability, quality-of-life and tourism aspects, university partnerships, the supply chain for different industries, and that area businesses are leading in innovation.

“Frankly, it’s a credit to Gov. Cuomo that he has made infrastructure improvement a top priority and that he recognizes how important it is for New York State’s economic development,” says Richard Newman, executive vice president of state marketing strategy for Empire State Development.

Transportation projects, because of the necessity to meet improved safety and security measures, construction best practices, environmental concerns and better technology, material and equipment needs, require funding from multiple sources.

In July, for instance, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced two grants totaling $4.6 million for Syracuse Hancock International Airport. The funding was allocated through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Infrastructure Is the New Black

“The purpose of the ad – which has a number of projects from the governor’s $100 billion infrastructure initiative – is to really focus business leaders on the fact that New York State is investing in the state and that infrastructure is a key investment,” explains Newman.

He shares this outlook during a timeframe in which the entire country, from residents in small towns and booming or tony destination cities, to the business community and transportation stakeholders, continue to see the importance of, or advocate daily, for better, safer and faster transportation.

Just one Google search on the phrase “Twitter + transportation” yielded 10.4 million results. News and reports about the need for more infrastructure and transportation investment have become a chorus.

“America has an infrastructure investment crisis; the focus on short-term fixes has set us up for long-term failure,” according to Bloomberg News. “[And] across the entirety of America’s infrastructure, our leaders have allowed the nation’s major overseas competitors, including China, Germany and Japan, to gain an enormous strategic and economic advantage. The productivity increases and financial benefits of a fully modernized, technologically advanced economy are being reaped by the U.S.’s rivals. This is a huge disadvantage to the corporate employers who invest and hire in the U.S.”

The nation has been poised for months now, awaiting details of the Trump administration’s and Congress’s plans to help solve U.S. infrastructure and transportation problems. Solutions suggested by experts or currently used span local and state investments, a viable funding formula to keep the Highway Trust Fund secure (such as raising the federal gas tax), grants and credit assistance, financing programs and incentives, and involvement by those in the private sector.

“There are a lot of interesting things happening here and for all of them the ability to have good infrastructure is critical,” according to Newman. “Infrastructure helps retain jobs and infrastructure projects help create jobs. … Infrastructure also helps communities and helps local residents also feel greater optimism and positivity about the communities in which they live. We know that infrastructure plays a critical role in the economic development of the state.”

It is clear that New York City is one of the most efficacious metropolises in the world, but by investing in New York State overall, Newman points out that the state is meeting the demands of a global era. Businesses and people, respectively, make informed decisions about where they locate, spend their time, resources and capital, or travel, live, work and play.

Last year, Governor Cuomo announced that New York State’s tourism industry set new records for total number of visitors, economic impact and direct spending in 2016. The state reported that a “record 239 million visitors” traveled to New York State, which amounted to an economic impact of $104.8 billion – exceeding $100 billion for the third straight year. In addition, visitors generated an “all-time high” $64.8 billion in direct spending. [Source: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-economic-impact-new-york-state-tourism-achieves-historic-1048-billion]

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