Public finance partnership pushes Empire State Development Corp.
The head of New York State's lead economic development agency credits the municipal bond market for carving a path to tackle important capital projects.
Eric Gertler, who became president and CEO of the Empire State Development Corp. last September, said Tuesday that the backing of the public finance community has allowed the advancement of a number of important infrastructure initiatives crucial for attracting new businesses.
“The amount of debt is on the rise, but that is really a function of the tremendous and aggressive infrastructure that we are undertaking to build New York State for the 21st century,” Gertler told attendees during a keynote speech at The Bond Buyer’s National Outlook Conference in New York. “The need to responsibly finance these projects is critical and I can tell you that the bond market has in many ways been the unsung hero in helping this happen and has been great partners to ESD.”
The ESD was the 10th biggest issuer nationally last year with $3.217 billion of debt sold on behalf of New York State affiliates through 10 transactions, according to ESD data, following $3.74 billion of volume in 2018.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo tapped Gertler to lead the ESD after he served a year on the agency’s board. Gertler was previously chairman of U.S. News & World Report and also spent two years as co-publisher and co-chairman of the New York Daily News from 2015 to 2017. He also was executive vice president of the New York City Economic Development Corp. as well as managing director of the Center for Economic Transformation under Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio.
The ESD’s active 2019 included a $1.3 billion sale of Urban Development Corp. tax revenue bonds in January followed by a similar $1.67 billion transaction in October through five separate deals. Proceeds from the bonds will be used to fund capital projects for enhancements to mass transit, information technology, homeland security and the environment.
Gertler noted that conduit bonds ESD has issued in recent years on behalf of private sector workers throughout New York plays an integral role in fostering economic activity throughout the state. The ESD’s New York Transportation Development Corp. sold $4.8 billion of bonds for redevelopment projects at LaGuardia and Kennedy airports backed by concession lease revenues. The agency’s New York Convention Center Development Corp. also issued $1 billion of special purpose bonds to finance a $1.5 billion expansion of the Javits Center supported by hotel unit fees.
“These public-private partnerships that we have created with all of you in the room is essential for assuring that the infrastructure that we need to ensure that we are showing New Yorkers that we are making it easier for them to move around, that we have confidence in the future, is critical and your help has been so important,” Gertler said. “Together I hope that we can reach greater heights in 2020.”