Press Release

Gillibrand Announces New “Upstate Works Act” to Create New Jobs, Set Foundation for Strong, Growing Upstate Economy

Nov 15, 2011

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced the Upstate Works Act, legislation she wrote to put New Yorkers back to work and help create the environment for a strong and growing upstate economy. The Upstate Works Act retools New York’s manufacturers for the clean energy economy, provides tax relief for family farms to diversify and expand their production, provides resources to help students and working adults get the new training they need for the jobs of the future, connects upstate businesses with new markets by expanding broadband to every corner of New York, and gets construction workers back on the job rebuilding New York’s highways and water infrastructure.

“As I spend time in every corner of upstate New York, there is no question that families, businesses and communities are struggling. They face unique economic challenges that require targeted solutions,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Upstate New York is home to world class businesses and some of the hardest working people in the world, but too many are struggling to find a job, and too many small businesses are struggling to survive. My Upstate Works Act rejuvenates our manufactures to make New York the clean energy capital of the world, gives working adults access to new training to prepare them for the jobs of the future, and helps our family farms get ahead. No other state can lead the way to the new economy like New York, and my upstate Jobs bill taps into New York’s full potential.”

An estimate of nearly 300,000 upstate New Yorkers are currently out of work. Upstate New York lost an estimated total of more than 3,600 construction jobs in the last year, according to the New York State Department of Labor and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

  • In Western New York, there were 53,000 people unemployed in September, and more than 380 construction jobs lost in the last year.
  • In the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, there were 44,800 people unemployed in September, and 175 construction jobs lost in the last year.
  • In Central New York, there were 40,900 people unemployed in September, and just 22 construction jobs gained in the last year.
  • In the Southern Tier, there were 20,400 people unemployed in September, and just 51 construction jobs gained in the last year.
  • In the Capital Region, there were 41,100 people unemployed in September, and nearly 500 construction jobs lost in the last year.
  • In the North Country, there were 19,000 people unemployed in September, and more than 420 construction jobs lost in the last year.
  • In the Hudson Valley, there were 77,900 people unemployed in September, and more than 2,200 construction jobs lost in the last year. 


Retool Manufacturers for Clean Energy Production
Once a manufacturing powerhouse, upstate New York has lost an estimated 71,500 manufacturing jobs since 2005. Senator Gillibrand knows New York’s manufacturers stand ready to work and power our economy again, and the Upstate Works Act would help retool and rejuvenate our manufacturers for clean technology production, create new jobs, and help make New York the clean energy capital of the world.

The legislation would invest $30 billion to establish a Manufacturing Revolving Loan Fund – helping small and medium-sized manufacturing businesses expand or establish a clean energy technology manufacturing operation. It would also invest $1.5 billion over five years for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership that helps manufacturers access clean energy markets and transition to new, innovative, clean energy manufacturing technologies. 

The Alliance for Clean Energy New York estimates this investment could create approximately 50,000 new jobs, while making America more secure by making us more energy independent, breaking our addiction to foreign oil, and protecting our environment.

Tax Credits for Agricultural Value-Added Investments
The Upstate Works Act includes a provision to encourage New York farmers to develop value-added products that can help farmers increase their income, expand their operations, and create more agriculture jobs for New York.  

Specifically, the legislation would offer farms a tax credit worth up to $30,000 for producing value-added products to spur investments in packaging, chopping and cooking equipment, waste-to-energy generators, and other local processing tools to grow New York’s farming communities.

Retrain NY Workers for Jobs of the Future
To make sure New York’s workforce is prepared for the jobs of the future, the Upstate Works Act would create partnerships among businesses, colleges and universities to provide worker training opportunities for New York’s students and working adults.  The legislation would require the U.S. Labor Secretary to award federal grants to:

  • Regional skill alliances that help communities offer worker training opportunities for specific industries; and
  • States to help provide the resources that businesses and industry organizations need to support worker skill alliances in every corner of New York. 

Expand Broadband Access Across New York

Less than one-third of rural Americans have access to broadband, including large portions of upstate New York. Approximately 300,000 New Yorkers lack access to wireline broadband, and 60,000 lack access to wireless broadband. The lack of broadband access cuts families off from services, cuts upstate businesses off from markets, and holds our entire economy back from growing. 

Senator Gillibrand’s Upstate Works Act would reauthorize the Rural Utility Service’s (RUS) rural broadband access loan and loan guarantee program through 2017 as part of the next Farm Bill.

The program, authorized through 2012 as part of the last Farm Bill, offers loans to businesses, cooperatives or mutual organizations, Indian tribes, as well as state and local governments to install broadband services. In 2010, New York received over $12 million through the loan program, helping advance seven rural broadband deployment projects throughout the state, creating or saving over 1,000 jobs and delivering high-speed Internet service to thousands of New York households, hundreds of businesses and anchor institutions like schools and libraries.

Increasing broadband access by just 7 percent nationally would create 2.4 million new jobs across America, according to a study by Connected Nation. Broadband access is also the first step to implementing health care IT, technology that can cut medical costs, reduce medical errors and save lives.

Creating New Jobs Rebuilding Infrastructure
Investing in infrastructure is one of the fastest ways to create a large number of construction jobs, while bringing important upgrades to highways and other infrastructure. The Upstate Works Act extends the successful Build America Bonds program, which allows local governments to sell tax-discounted bonds to fund investments in roads, sewers and other infrastructure projects, and help manage local tax bills. 

Build America Bonds are an effective, efficient mechanism for states and local governments to get the financing they need for infrastructure upgrades. A Congressional Budget Office analysis found that bonds like those offered through Build America Bonds program are more attractive to investors, and more efficient at raising capital, helping local communities invest even when facing their own tight budgets.  Build America Bonds also go to work quickly, with all bond funds required to be spent within two years of being issued, injecting communities with the financing they need to get to work on vital infrastructure upgrades, and quickly creating the necessary construction jobs to complete them. 

Not only do infrastructure projects create new jobs immediately, they also help connect more businesses with the highways, roads, bridges, water and waste water infrastructure they need to grow, and help attract new businesses to our communities.

With private sector support, including from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Build America Bonds helped fund more than $19 billion of projects in New York in 2009 and 2010.