Pataki Sells New York

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America is about to find out that Governor George Pataki means business–and New York’s going to pay for it. This year, the governor’s budget calls for a 500 percent spending increase for the state’s business marketing plan, the publicity project that touts New York as a good place to open shop. The $4.5 million proposed by Pataki will fund a national print and TV ad campaign, helping people from Boise to Kalamazoo get to know New York–and Pataki–a little better.

But this is the only significant new chunk of money in his entire economic development budget, suggesting that Pataki has one very specific type of economic development foremost in mind: his own campaign coffers. The glitzy ad campaign comes as the governor gives speeches around the country, raising his profile for a potential presidential or vice-presidential run in 2000.

The technique’s not without precedent: Before officially kicking off his reelection campaign last year, Pataki put his mug on publicly funded ads plugging the state as a tourist destination, boosting New York’s economic development programs, celebrating the introduction of the MetroCard and even lecturing about the importance of seat belts. Another ad, promoting the state’s takeover of LILCO, was aired during the Super Bowl.

Meanwhile, Pataki proposes to eliminate funding for the Entrepreneurial Assistance Program (EAP). The $1 million program, which has helped entrepreneurs create new businesses since its inception in 1987, targets minorities, women and dislocated workers. Sixty-two percent of EAP clients are minorities and 57 percent are women.