Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul delivered remarks at the Westchester Business Council annual dinner.
VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.
AUDIO of the Governor’s remarks is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor’s Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:
Thank you, Marsha, and to all of you who accommodated my schedule, which has been a little bit hectic lately. We received word late last night there’d be some briefings from Washington on the situation unfolding in Israel. But I was told by my staff, “Well, you can’t get to Westchester.” And I said, “No, I’m going to Westchester.” Then I was told about a half hour later, “No, it really will not work, you’re not going to Westchester.” I said, “I’m going to Westchester.” It took three times to convince them I’m going to Westchester.
But Marsha made the magic happen. And thank you, my friend, because I think you got this date on my calendar almost the day after I became Governor, I swear. But this is a homecoming for me. It really, truly is. I have gotten to know the people of Westchester County through some challenging times, but also there’s this continuous sense of optimism that I see when I go to all the ribbon cuttings and the ground breakings and speak 10-plus times to the Business Council, whether it’s in Albany, at your forums here, but I’m a firm believer that organizations like this are only a powerhouse because of the people at the top. And you are blessed, my friends, to have Marsha Gordon leading the way to not just for Westchester, but charting a more optimistic, positive environment for business in the State of New York. Marsha Gordon, thank you.
Jamie Schutzer, and to John Ravitz and others I’ve worked with a long time, I thank you as well. I know some of our elected officials are here. I saw Mayor Spano up from Yonkers too. How many events have I done in Yonkers? Oh my god. I can’t play favorites, but I love all my mayors. And also, it doesn’t hurt to have a powerhouse like the Majority Leader of the New York State Senate from Westchester County as well. My great friend, Andrea Stewart-Cousins. And your County Executive, we have been through so much together starting with the challenges of the pandemic, but also just helping with the recovery. So, I’ve seen George Latimer in some really trying times, but what a great leader he is as well.
But all of you are the business community who believe in this community to your very core. I sense that. I’ve been to many, many communities, walking the streets, meeting with mayors, seeing innovation, seeing pride. I don’t feel that all over the state. And I wish I could bottle this up and send it to all the other counties where sometimes people feel a little bit disaffected. You know, not quite so sure about the future, but there’s something innately, innately part of the DNA of Westchester that makes such a huge difference.
So, to receive this honor, and I know you’ve honored some very distinguished people before me. I’m honored by that. It means a lot to me personally. I really want you to know that. But I feel that we have so much more to do in Westchester. I feel, and you want to talk about economic development, this really is becoming the economic engine for our state. First of all, coming from a place where unemployment was often 15-17 percent – Western New York – and that wasn’t one bad year, that was my entire childhood, where our greatest export were our children. All the young people who had bright futures couldn’t find a place, couldn’t find a job in Upstate New York.
And they left our state. Well, what I’m seeing in Westchester, young people are being educated at some of the top schools in the country. And they want to stay. And as a result of that, there are more businesses coming here because they have so many talented people to choose from. Unemployment today is down 16 percent in Westchester County since I became Governor. It is now 3.5 percent – never thought I’d see that in my lifetime.
So, that’s one metric we look at. What about job creation? We have created over 400,000 jobs in the last two years in the State of New York. That is staggering. I remember all the headlines – 50 jobs lost here, 2,000 jobs lost here, 1,000 jobs lost here. That was the story of New York for decades. But we have over 13,000 new jobs in this county alone, which is incredible. That’s in one year, and the expansion of businesses, like Regeneron, you showed the picture of us at the ribbon cutting – the groundbreaking, that was the groundbreaking. That was the $1.8 billion dollar project, I think they’re not quite done yet.
But to be able to witness the confidence that business leaders have in this county – when they could go anywhere in the country, and they’re building their futures and their expansion right here in Westchester. So, please don’t take that for granted. I have seen Hollywood on the Hudson. I am seeing more investment in the Bronx as well as here, but a lot of people from Westchester are focused on the Bronx, but that is all spreading to Westchester. And that is very exciting to me, as we build more studios and have more productions right here in places like Yonkers.
We also are seeing a real growth in tech businesses. The jobs of the future really are in technology and innovation. And there’s no reason why New York State, and with Westchester leading the way, cannot be the AI capital of the nation because no one else has claimed that yet. I see some open space there and I know we have the smart enough people and the innovative enough people and companies who can make that happen. That’ll be another magnet for more and more jobs to keep coming here.
But, when you bring people here for these great jobs, they have to live somewhere. And this is an area where I want to applaud Marsha and all of you for standing with me and stating what is so obvious to most of us, we are behind in building housing in our state. Counties outside of here, in Connecticut, and New Jersey, they’re building at such a faster rate, that’s where the young people are wanting to work and live because they can afford the housing. Remember basic economics, everybody? Some people don’t seem to remember this. Supply and demand. If we have more supply, the prices come down, which means more affordable housing.
We can get this done. I have seen the best models of what transit-oriented development looks like in the entire nation, right here in Westchester County. I’ve been at so many ribbon cuttings there as well. And I’m saying, “Don’t be afraid of this.” This is housing that would otherwise be on a vacant parking lot with tumbleweed blowing at the end of the day. Wouldn’t you rather see life, first floor, little coffee shops and restaurants, and then some parking, and then some office space, and you can throw on a few more layers of housing on top, and how about a pool on the top, on the roof? Why not?
I believe that we can lean into building more housing, and Marsha, again, it took courage for you to support our package, and say, “Our businesses need this. And we will stand with you.” And I appreciate it so much, your standing with us at that time. But not only have you been at the forefront on housing, but it was years ago when Marsha convened a group of business leaders, your board, where we talked about something that’s as basic as mom and apple pie, and that’s called child care.
You leaned hard into child care. You said, if we’re going to get more women to be able to take these great jobs here in Westchester, we have to make sure that our businesses understand they have a role to play in either providing child care facilities on site, which I’m always saying when someone comes before the regional council, show me your child care center – and guess what? Micron is already building their child care center in the Syracuse area before they build their first office building, before anybody goes to work. They understand that this is the foundation. You, the Westchester Business Council, understood this before any other place in this state, and I commend you for that.
So you are at the forefront. You are the visionaries. So we talk about an economic explosion in our state that could start right here, it is going to have a ripple effect all over New York. So this benefits all of us. And I have said I want to make sure that New York State is the most business-friendly state in the nation.
And we’re continuing to look at regulations and other things that are just frustrating to all of you. I come out of a business family. I helped start small businesses. I was an attorney negotiating a lot of contracts for small businesses that grew into big businesses. So I know the frustration that many of you feel. But please know that you have a Governor who gets it.
I understand that we are nothing without you, and your success is our success. And that’s how we’re going to continue to lead together into a better future so all of our children will know there’s plenty of opportunities right here where they are blessed to be raised here in Westchester County.
Thank you, my friends. See you with more scissors and shovels over the next few years.