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Governor’s ‘Opportunity Agenda’ Passes Over History

Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued his “2015 Opportunity Agenda”.  While there is no mention of the Path through History nor are history, historic sites, heritage tourism or historic preservation listed as targeted areas, it’s still of interest for those interested in the state of history in New York.

Governor Cuomo is not known for visiting the state’s historic sites and they are not included in what he sees as “opportunities” for 2015.  It would appear that cultural heritage tourism involving historic sites doesn’t really rate high with Governor Cuomo.

Instead, the “opportunities” are consistent with the grants awarded by the Regional Economic Development Councils; wine, food, sports, recreation, and the Adirondacks garner major attention. It’s probably not coincidental that these areas match the personal interests of the Governor as well. Below, I have extracted some of the salient portions from the document and a press release. The full Opportunity Agenda can be found online.

33. Extend the Reach of Taste NY

The Governor has also made strategic statewide investments in promotion and marketing of agri-tourism—many of the ideas for which came from in-depth industry summits. Alongside the Pride of New York program that promotes New York food and products, Taste NY is Governor Cuomo’s signature program to promote the state’s food and beverage industries through high-profile events, branding and signage, and stores….. The Governor wants to ensure that every New Yorker has easy access to the local products they want to purchase. To expand access to Taste NY products for New York residents and visitors, the following actions will take place in 2015:

• The I LOVE NY mobile website will expand to offer consumers opportunities to buy food and beverages produced in New York. The Taste NY website will also undergo a redesign to enable online purchasing.

• Taste NY displays, stores, and vending machines will be added to all SUNY and CUNY campuses.

• The State Thruway Authority will expand current Taste NY offerings at all 27 Thruway Travel Plazas and add new stores in the next two years.

• The State Department of Transportation will add new Taste NY retail stores in strategic locations designed to increase agri-tourism opportunities and increase retail exposure for local agricultural producers, with at least two new stores targeted for completion over a two-year period.

• More Taste NY vending machines will further expand the offering of local foods and be strategically located across the state.

• Taste NY displays at in-state liquor stores—currently being piloted at six locations—will expand to every region of the state. The full statewide rollout of this expansion coincided with the New York State Liquor Store Association’s Annual Tradeshows in Albany and Rochester. Dozens of additional liquor stores received Taste NY marketing materials at these events to display throughout the year.

• A new downstate wing of the Department of Agriculture and Markets, dubbed the Taste NY Office at Brooklyn, will promote agricultural economic development and strengthen the connection between upstate producers and downstate consumers.

Moreover, the Taste NY program will enter international markets under the Governor’s Global NY initiative. The Department of Agriculture and Markets will work with Food Export USA and Empire State Development to ensure the inclusion of food and beverage products in the recently announced trade missions identified in the Governor’s Global NY Summit.

39. Expand Tourism throughout the State

New York continues to attract visitors from around the world. Tourism directly supports nearly 900,000 jobs and generated $62 billion in direct spending in New York State in 2014, far outpacing the national growth rate for this economic engine. As the fourth largest employment sector in New York, the tourism industry supported more than 850,000 jobs in 2014, and generates $59.2 billion in direct spending in New York State.33 The economic impact of tourism stretches well beyond state support for the industry, which has amounted to $100 million over the last four years and culminated with a $45 million campaign announcement in 2014— representing a 50 percent over-the-year increase in funding.

The investments are clearly paying off, with spending and visitation at all-time highs. Bolstered by a new, comprehensive marketing campaign for I LOVE NEW YORK, strong efforts to connect upstate with downstate, a strong emphasis on international travel and destination development, and critical infrastructure improvements at visitor gateways on the roads and in the skies, tourism in New York State will continue to surpass expectations this year and beyond.

Governor Cuomo has sought to remain competitive and recapture the millions of dollars spent by New Yorkers each year in neighboring states and Canada by championing a successful constitutional amendment on the November 2013 ballot authorizing casinos. In December 2014, the Governor announced three resort destination gaming facilities to be located across upstate New York in Sullivan, Schenectady, and Seneca Counties. With a combined capital investment of more than $1.3 billion, it is expected that the three casinos will create more than 3,600 permanent jobs.

In addition to casino development and ongoing work to promote and develop New York’s tourism regions, this year we will again lead a series of summits and challenges to nurture tourism across a diverse array of recreational pastimes. The Adirondack Winter Challenge, the Governor’s Cup wine competition, the Governor’s Bassmasters’ Challenge, and the Empire State Open golf tournament will each put a spotlight on a distinctive region or leisure activity – such as wine tasting in the Finger Lakes and snowmobiling in the Adirondacks – that makes New York State a world class destination for visitors.

Additionally, the Governor will host a third Tourism Summit in 2015 to highlight the industry as a central part of New York’s economic growth. To continue driving our tourism economy Upstate and elsewhere, the Governor will commit $25 million to our existing I LOVE NY marketing campaign and will also host another round of his Governor’s Challenges with winter and summer events in the Adirondacks, a fishing tournament in the Finger Lakes, and two wine cups—one in the Finger Lakes and one on Long Island.

40. Support the State’s Recreational Attractions and Sports Tourism

Empowering regions to leverage their tourism assets has enabled the state to identify new opportunities for growth in the industry. Among the assets to emerge is sports tourism. New York is now bustling with activity—creating attractions for all sports enthusiasts —including the Adirondack Challenge, Bass Masters, and PGA Championship. Over the past year, New York’s sporting events had a combined economic impact of approximately $680 million. Yet, this is only the beginning. New York is home to the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, the only place in North America to host two winter Olympics; over 50 ski resorts, including Whiteface Mountain with the longest vertical drop of any ski area in the Northeast; historic raceways with such legendary tracks as Belmont and Saratoga; and some of the best large and small game hunting and saltwater and freshwater fishing in the region. As the home to hundreds of world-class athletic sites, New York State is perfectly poised to become the preferred destination for global sports tourism, a $600 billion industry. In the coming year, New York will play host to the NBA All-Star weekend in Brooklyn for the first time.

41. Focus on the ADK Tourism Economy

Governor Cuomo will redouble his efforts to secure the Adirondack Park’s reputation as a premier tourist destination, establishing brand recognition, creating visitor-friendly resources and accommodations, and improving accessibility. As part of this effort, the Governor will direct ESD, I LOVE NY, and DEC to brand, promote and provide helpful resources to plan a trip to the Adirondacks. This includes: establishing better roadside directional signage in the Park; creating kiosks and off-highway directional signs; revamping I LOVE NY and DEC’s tourism planning tools; and investing in bike lanes, crosswalks, snowmobile trails and cross-country skiing access. In addition, the Governor will commit to upgrading certain Olympic Regional Development Authority facilities.

53. Promote and Conserve New York’s Outdoor Resources
54. Create the Excelsior Conservation Corps
55. Expand “NY Open for Fishing and Hunting” Initiative
56. Promote Protected Landscapes and Thriving Communities in the Adirondacks
57. Facilitate Infrastructure Repair and Improvements in the Adirondacks
58. Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species in the Adirondacks
59. Improve the Quality-of-Life for Adirondack Residents


3 thoughts on “Governor’s ‘Opportunity Agenda’ Passes Over History

  1. We should all know by now that when the governor praises history or directs funds to history he is talking about those places that generate media attention or generate money for tourism or that build a business. History has become for him and others in the state a way of dressing up tourism to sound classy.

    History has been reduced as a word and concept to something other than it is. This is not new, of course. In the 1980s and 1990s, history was caught under the umbrella as heritage and culture, words that are far from the events of the past and how we engage with them to explain how we got to be where we are and who we are.

    The fault is theirs for only seeking ways of competing and making money. They wanted to produce a sign-worthy past without understanding what was being promoted along the roadside. A few sites were ready but most not, and some of our most significant places needed greater underpinning for the notice they were given.

    Behind the signs on the path to history, I fear the Emperor has no clothes. Yet, in many places, history is being done well for those who live nearby–a far greater victory than to catch a passing car is to help those who live here understand place, experience change over time, and to see their role in the modernizing and diversifying world in which we live.

  2. New York is so rich in history, but that only informs the citizens of the state when the proper resources are allocated. Otherwise, that splendid story remains in books on a shelf. This does a disservice to the state and to the people. Very short-sighted that the governor’s rhetoric exceeds the commitment.

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