State official speaks locally on State of the State

JOHNSTOWN – RoAnn Destito, Commissioner of the Office of General Services, commented Friday on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address at Fulton-Montgomery Community College and covered topics including education and the in-state job market.

Destito discussed the state of education from pre-kindergarten all the way to the State University of New York system.

She said the governor is working on “Innovation New York Network,” based on a successful “Connect” model from San Diego, and it is expected to be a collaboration between venture capitalists and higher education to foster commercialization.

She noted the state ranks second nationally in research for universities spent at $5 billion.

But only four percent of the nation’s venture capital is spent in New York compared to the 44 percent that is spent in California – the highest spending state in the nation.

“The important message here is the Governor wants to see the research dollars that we are putting into our universities – whether they be public or private – we want to see more of a commercialization that happens here in New York,” Destito said. “So many times the governor has heard the stories annecdotally and documented that research done in New York is commercialized in another state, and the jobs are created in other states.

“So these are programs that he wants to put into place so we benefit from the research dollars and the investment that we make in academia and commercial sponsored research, that we get the results of the jobs being created here.”

Destito also specifically addressed the role of community colleges in the state.

She said that these colleges serve a vital role in training students for businesses in the communities the schools serve.

“I know the community colleges work with the businesses to make sure students are being trained to work in the jobs in the community,” she said. ” … Because 210,000 jobs go unfilled, there are students who could fill those jobs. That’s where I think the community colleges will come into place.”

She said the community colleges are more flexible, which allows them to respond to prepare students for the workforce.

Destito also stressed the importance of filling in-state jobs with residents in the state.

Employers will work with the governor to identify the jobs, define the skills and to provide training for it.

She said job growth is the worst in upstate New York compared to the rest of the state. Upstate job growth is at five percent in recent years compared to 11 percent in the state, 16 percent in New York City and nine percent in the United States.

“One of the proposals is Market New York,” Destito said. “It will be a new multi-faceted marketing plan to bolster job growth in upstate New York. Another one of our provisions is our new ‘Taste New York Program.’ We will aggresively promote New York products … We will have a coordinated marketing program around New York products – wine, beer and yogurt.”

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