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Governor Andrew Cuomo paddles a stretch of the Indian River, just upstream from the confluence with the Hudson River. Photo: NYS Governor's office
Governor Andrew Cuomo paddles a stretch of the Indian River, just upstream from the confluence with the Hudson River. Photo: NYS Governor's office

Cuomo pumps up North Country in big speech

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Governor Andrew Cuomo's state of the state speech returned again and again to North Country issues yesterday, talking about economic projects from Plattsburgh to Saranac Lake.

Local leaders were thrilled to see this rural area and its issues at the center of the governor's agenda.

One of Cuomo's biggest policy proposals, downsizing local governments, will be a tough sell in this rural area, where government paychecks are a big part of the regional economy.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

Governor Cuomo shakes hands with Kevin Bushey (front) and Mitchell Graham workers at Bombardier plant in Plattsburgh in 2012. This week, Governor Cuomo cited growth at the Bombardier plant as a sign of economic vitality in the North Country.  Photo: Sarah Harris
Governor Cuomo shakes hands with Kevin Bushey (front) and Mitchell Graham workers at Bombardier plant in Plattsburgh in 2012. This week, Governor Cuomo cited growth at the Bombardier plant as a sign of economic vitality in the North Country. Photo: Sarah Harris
Cuomo gave shout-out after shout-out to the North Country, building on his claim that policies he introduced over the last have changed the region’s economy.

Cuomo has visited the North Country repeatedly and his Regional Economic Development Council program has focused tens of millions of dollars on projects here.

According to Cuomo, that’s starting to pay real dividends.

Economists say there’s not enough data or independent analysis yet to know how much of that activity reflects Cuomo’s policies – and how much reflects the broader recovery of the national economy.

But state Senator Betty Little says it’s a good thing for the governor to be lavishing attention and drawing the public’s eye to the North Country.

Cuomo’s North Country focus wasn’t entirely on jobs and economics.

Governor Cuomo also gave a nod to new hotel development in Saranac Lake. Photo: Susan Waters
Governor Cuomo also gave a nod to new hotel development in Saranac Lake. Photo: Susan Waters
Some of the governor’s biggest laugh lines came when he talked about last summer’s Adirondack Challenge, a rafting race that his administration organized in Hamilton County.

During his speech, Cuomo also welcomed a delegation from the North Country’s St. Regis Mohawk tribe, arguing that his administration has improved dialogue with native groups.

Arguably the most high impact part of Cuomo’s speech for the North Country focused on downsizing local government.

State Senator Betty Little supports that idea, but says losing all those good government jobs will be a really tough sell in a region where government paychecks drive the cash economy.

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