Report indicates $354m spent on ads promoting New York

Taxpayers react after report indicates $354m spent on ads promoting New York (Courtesy: Empire State Development)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Selling New York State comes at a cost.

An investigation by Gannett Media shows Empire State Development (ESD) spends about $50 million tax dollars per year on TV and radio advertisements.

The ads began shortly after Governor Cuomo took office and tout both state tourism and business.

The goal is to promote New York state enough so that people consistently visit and stay. A Freedom of Information Law request by Gannett reveals 105 TV and radio advertisements were created and aired since 2012.

“Marketing is something any healthy enterprise needs to do,” said Vincent Esposito, Regional Director of the Empire State Development Finger Lakes Office. “The state legislature and the Governor, every year, come up with a budget. Every year, they’ve spent $50 million per year on advertising in marketing New York. I don’t think it is too much at all.”

Taxpayer Thomasina Ferguson-Johnson disagrees.

“It sounds like the money could be better utilized in education, and getting jobs,” Ferguson-Johnson said. “Especially with minorities and job training.”

Esposito says tourism growth has been forward-moving since 2011.

“The return on investment has been 7:1 in terms of the tourism dollars spent by all of New York,” Esposito said. “It hasn’t been that high in the Finger Lakes region but it’s still positive.”

“Look at all the sites we have in Rochester,” said taxpayer John Lippa. “We’ll see what happens.”

Esposito says 60 percent of TV/radio advertisements are spent to promote outside of New York. He says the idea is to get New Yorkers to stay and explore the state.

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