I live here, and have seen the ads for this program. One of the problems facing New York, both the metro area and upstate, is the loss of old-line employers, both in manufacturing and services:
- Upstate NY had huge numbers of manufacturing jobs as recently as 20 years ago. Most of the actual jobs have either been automated or the companies themselves have moved to other states or countries. Steel mills and auto plants in Buffalo, Kodak in Rochester, Carrier in Syracuse, Corning Glass in Corning are just examples I can think of off the top of my head (yes, I'm a former upstater.)
- The huge tax generator for the state, financial services, only keeps the high end jobs in NYC. Other jobs like IT support, etc. are mostly in cheaper parts of the country.
- IBM was, and still is to some degree, a very big New York State employer. They have large operations in the Hudson Valley and HQ is in Westchester County. However, everyone sees the writing on the wall with IBM -- they are getting rid of or outsourcing any job that doesn't generate outsized revenue for the company and dumping product lines/businesses left and right. I think it won't be long before their influence is done as well.
- Kodak's bankruptcy basically dropped a bomb in Rochester's economy. Not just manufacturing jobs were lost -- tons and tons of service jobs went away too.
- In addition, New York City is no longer seen as a place where companies have to have an office. It certainly was in the early to mid 20th Century. Even if a company does locate here, you aren't seeing the 50s and 60s style "seas of desks" where people manually worked on paper records and company headquarters were the size of a city block, filled with 50 floors of this. (I worked for MetLife early in my career -- it was very interesting to hear the old timers talk of a time when 20,000 people worked in one building.)
One of the issues that I see, having lived both upstate and downstate, is that New York, like California and Massachusetts, are good places to live. Even rural school districts are adequate, the state university system is great and still a good deal, and local services are decent for the most part. The problem is that this requires money, and the anti-tax crowd is all about cutting that off. In addition, low- or no-tax states like Texas and Florida constantly go trolling for companies to move there. No taxes for 20 years? Sure. Free utilities for 10 years? No problem. Want us to build you a headquarters for free? We'll sign the deal tomorrow. I'm not saying taxes should be as high as they are, but that's a far cry from the anti-tax zealots proposing that we gut the entire state government in the name of savings. High tax states like NY, CA, CT, MA, MD, etc. can't win a game of Prisoner's Dilemma with TX, FL, TN, AL, etc.
I don't think programs like this will solve everything, nor will they fix the big mess that happened when companies got rid of all the low- to mid-skill work. But, it's a start and early on in the program. I don't really see a startup with 5 guys sporting hipster beards and writing iPhone apps replacing the labor force NY used to have, or the manufacturing base they had. I think the only long term fix is one of two things -- (1) bring manufacturing back to the level it was at, or (2) accept that a chunk of the population is going to be under- or un-employed forever and subsidize them enough to prevent increases in crime.