The Dirtiest Dozen: New York’s Worst Economic Development Deals

March 23, 2022 State and Local Policy


New York State is one of the most prolific users of so-called “economic development” incentives in the country, spending some $10 billion annually at the state and local level on subsidies to select businesses. For all that, New York has very little to show other than empty factories, underwhelming job-creation numbers, and a slew of corruption scandals.

Instead of addressing these obvious problems, Gov. Hochul has proposed to double spending at the Empire State Development Corporation — literally doubling down on failure.

It’s time to try something new. But to truly reform the economic development system so that it focuses on people, communities, and local businesses, policymakers have to understand what went wrong.

This paper covers 12 of the worst New York economic development deals: a dirty dozen of failure. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but it provides a sense of the many ways in which New York’s dependence on corporate subsidies has done the state’s residents wrong, and why a complete overhaul of the system is such an urgent priority.