Why New York? A Q&A With Hope Knight, Empire State Development

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight talks about how New York innovation and initiatives support growth in manufacturing, clean energy, and more.

By the BF Staff
From the November/December 2023 Issue


Business Facilities: Why is the economy growing in New York State right now? How would you describe this growth as 2024 approaches?

Hope Knight: The economy is growing thanks to the critical investments New York State is making in the industries of tomorrow. Our business competitions and support for innovation accelerators grow sectors, including agribusiness, optics, photonics and imaging, and uncrewed aerial systems, helping entrepreneurs take their ideas and turn them into scalable enterprises. New York’s skilled and educated workforce is drawing interest from global businesses seeking strong local talent—and New York is investing in programs that will strengthen its future pipeline. And we are creating shovel-ready sites that will attract large, high-growth companies, especially those in the semiconductor industry.

New York, Hope Knight, Empire State Development
Hope Knight, President, CEO & Commissioner, Empire State Development

“New York’s skilled and educated workforce is drawing interest from global businesses seeking strong local talent—and New York is investing in programs that will strengthen its future pipeline.”

BF: What are long-standing advantages or recent developments that impact business success in New York State?

Knight: New York has a rich history of manufacturing, innovation, and talent—and we are strategically investing to build on those assets. Our industries represent the range of Empire State innovation, from digital game development and advanced manufacturing to biotech and life sciences. We are also working to build a green economy, through investments in offshore wind and energy storage, to support the state’s ambitious climate goals. We are ranked No. 1 in the nation for reshoring manufacturing as we attract semiconductor and other high-tech industry leaders. Through the Office of Strategic Workforce Development, which launched in 2022 and is training the workforce to meet industry needs, we have awarded four grant award rounds—supporting more than 11,000 trainees for 400-plus business partners.

Empire State Development
In 2022, Wolfspeed opened a $1 billion semiconductor plant in Marcy, NY, north of Utica. It is the first 200mm silicon carbide chip plant in the world. (Photo: Empire State Development)
BF: What is a recent project relocation or expansion you’d like to tell us about?

Knight: We recently celebrated the first-year anniversary of Micron Technology’s announcement of their historic $100 billion investment in Central New York and plans to build the largest semiconductor fabrication facility in the history of the United States. And that announcement is only the beginning of what will be a transformational project for Central New York and for the entire state.

Micron has continued to partner with New York State in acting on its plans to fully engage with the community as it moves forward. The Micron Community Engagement Committee has launched, ensuring meaningful participation and discussion of Micron’s investments, and plans are in motion for developing on-site child care for Micron employees, and for partnering with Onondaga Community College to train students for Micron jobs. This has been a year of semiconductor-related growth in New York State with companies such as TTM Technologies also announcing their plans to expand here.

BF: What is an incentive program that’s having impact on the business climate in New York State?

Knight: New York State’s principal incentive program is the Excelsior Jobs Program, which is funded at $3 billion and provides refundable tax credits for creating jobs, including enhanced benefits for clean-tech focused projects.

As an extension of that program, to attract the semiconductor industry, New York State created the first-in-nation Green CHIPS program, designed as a companion to the federal CHIPS program and aimed at attracting the semiconductor industry. This has already borne fruit with the attraction of Micron Tech.

And our FAST NY Shovel-Ready Grant Program offers up to $200 million to develop sites to jumpstart New York’s shovel-readiness and attractiveness to large employers. In November, Governor Hochul announced that nearly $130 million has been awarded to 13 locations under the program, which is administered by ESD and will help diversify New York State’s economy while propelling new investments for businesses, communities, and job creation. Alongside a host of shovel-ready sites, cutting-edge R&D infrastructure and a talented workforce, New York State offers cutting-edge industries the nation’s most compelling advantages for doing business here.

New York, Hope Knight, Empire State Development
Erected in 1924, Bear Mountain Bridge on the Hudson River connects four New York counties — Orange and Rockland, and Westchester and Putnam. (Photo: Adobe Stock / Brian)
BF: Why is the future bright for business in New York State?

Knight: New York State has always been at the forefront of innovation and leadership. We are investing in growth industries, in reshoring our manufacturing, in lifesaving life science R&D and manufacturing, and in a green economy that also aligns with Governor Hochul’s ambitious climate goals.

New York is No. 1 in the Northeast for numbers of STEM graduates and ranked No. 2 in the U.S. for venture capital investment. We support company expansions and equitable job creation throughout New York State. And in FY 2023, 55% of projects ESD invested in were in distressed areas, reflecting a focus on places most in need of economic development and revitalization. We continue to support our small businesses—which make up the majority of New York State businesses—and through ESD’s New York State Small Business Credit Initiative programs, we are leveraging federal funding to give small businesses access to capital and the support they need to succeed.

BF: Why does the state have a great quality of life? 

Knight: In 2022, New York State broke visitor records. We welcomed 291.5 million visitors—the most in state history—who generated $123 billion in total economic impact. Those of us who live and work in New York understand the appeal. We are home to world-renowned art, music and culture­—from Buffalo to the Battery—and we’re making sure people can access and enjoy it all.

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Our iconic natural beauty stretches from the six million-acre Adirondack Park to the Thousand Islands and downstate to Long Island’s iconic ocean beaches. We’ve also made historic investments in infrastructure—including upgrades to airports and transportation hubs around the state — supporting transit-oriented development and increased access to our beautiful waterfronts. We continue to strategically invest in projects guided by our Regional Economic Development Councils, through plans that make the most of regional assets and industries. And we are re-energizing our downtowns and city centers as places where people want to live, work and play—creating even more reasons why New York is such a dynamic place for building the future.

Check out all the latest news related to New York economic development, corporate relocation, corporate expansion and site selection.


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