A report by Empire State Development in February 2018 shows a crane from South Africa. The mistake was being corrected, the agency said
Empire State Development

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York's economic-development agency said it will replace a photo of construction cranes in South Africa published in its annual report on the state's jobs programs.

On page 7 of the flashy, 128-page report about New York's economy, Empire State Development used an 8-year-old photo showing construction cranes in South Africa — not New York.

The Associated Press spotted the mistake, saying the photo is of seven cranes that were used to build a stadium in Cape Town for the 2010 soccer World Cup.

The photo is a cropped version of one owned by Getty Images, AP reported Tuesday evening.

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Empire State Development said the photo was mistakenly used, adding that it is a "generic stock image" that was inserted into the report by error.

"It is not represented or labeled" as a New York project, Empire State Development said. 

"To avoid any potential misperceptions, we will replace the photo with any of the hundreds of ongoing economic development projects in New York state."

The mistake was mocked on Twitter as Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, plans to seek a third term this fall and as his economic-development programs face increased scrutiny.

"Of course they did," wrote Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro, a Republican, who is reconsidering whether to run for governor.

Cuomo's economic-development programs, which cost New Yorkers billions of dollars a year, has been knocked for a lack of transparency over how the money is spent and whether taxpayers are getting a positive return.

The criticism led the state Legislature last year to mandate an annual report on the economic-development programs.

The report was released Feb. 5.

The AP noted the report includes tables, charts and photos of ways the state contends the economy is improving under Cuomo, who is in several photos.

The South Africa photo is prominently displayed near the beginning of the report, under the header "Our Investment Strategies" — with another, slightly different photo of the same crane under the text.

Joseph Spector is chief of USA TODAY Network's Albany, N.Y., bureau