New billion dollar economic plan could transform Central New York region

Syracuse Center for Excellence stands at a pivotal spot of a new regional economic plan for CNY.

The Central New York Regional Economic Development Council has just submitted its five year plan to Governor Andrew Cuomo in hopes of being selected as one of the regions to receive $40 million in state funding to spur growth and innovation.

Over the last two months the Council worked feverishly gathering input from a five county region to create a plan that builds on current business strengths, educational assets and unique qualities of Central New York. The plan builds off our assets. It TMs honest about who we are. It TMs clear about where we want to go, said CenterState CEO President Rob Simpson.

A 100 page detailed report has been sent to Albany after being written and approved by the co-chairs of the Council, Simpson and Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor. The report highlights priority industries for the region which includes Onondaga, Oswego, Madison, Cortland and Cayuga Counties. Those business areas are: Clean Energy and Environmental Systems, Health, Biomedical Services and Biosciences, Financial Services, Agribusiness and Food Processing, Advanced Manufacturing and Tourism.

In addition to focusing on those areas the plan calls for emphasis on entrepreneurship and small business, infrastructure, foreign investment, export promotion and workforce training. This far reaching project also plans to improve neighborhoods and cities in the area.

"It could certainly be a shot in the arm for the economy in Central New York," said Fred Burghardt. "Having lost so many manufacturing jobs, we can use all the help we can get in this region."

Simpson credits public planning sessions with adding the emphasis on communities and neighborhoods. While our economy is globally connected people are living at a neighborhood scale, said Simpson. They walk out their door and face issues dealing with crime, access to food and the ability to get on a bus and go to work.

Here are some of the key numbers that are part of this plan which will be compared to similar documents from ten regions throughout the state.

If fully executed, the project would create nearly 2000 new permanent jobs and 1900 construction jobs over the next five years.

"I think we need the jobs but somewhere I think somewhere along the line we need to stop spending money to try to make the economy better," said Jackie Ferretti.

It would take the state money of $40 million and amplify it to $1.1 billion in projects and spending.

Here are some of the projects from Onondaga County that made the list for significant state dollars:

1. CNY Biotechnology Research Center (Onondaga County) : $1.95 million2. Kennedy Square Bioscience Park (Onondaga County): $3.6 million3. St. Joseph TMs Hospital (Onondaga County): $2.5 million4. Syracuse Inner Harbor (Onondaga County ): $3 million5. Clay Business Park (Onondaga County): $2 million

Some of the other projects from the other four counties:

1. Cayuga Ingredients Milk Processing Plant (Cayuga County): $4 million2. Cortland Business Innovation Center (Cortland County): $500,0003. Owera Vineyards (Madison County): $994,0004. Port of Oswego (Oswego County): $1.25 million5. Huhtamaki Plant (Oswego County): $1 million

The entire list contains 30 projects and includes $737 million dollars of investment that will come from other funding sources.

The Chairs of the Council will be in Albany on November 29th to present this plan to a group appointed by Governor Cuomo. Only four of the ten regions are selected to each receive $40 million in assistance. The other six will share in a much smaller remaining pool of funds.

Rob Simpson of CenterState CEO is confident in the quality of the plan submitted, yet he does not feel succeeding in this statewide competition is the key to an improving regional economy. He would still like to see New York State government become more business friendly by reducing energy costs and easing the property tax burden through mandate relief, for example.

Simpson promises to lead the execution of this plan regardless of whether New York awards the Central New York Region the $40 million in incentive money. Simpson said, If we can line our resources up against this strategy, over a long sustained period of time then I believe we can make a difference. I believe we can fundamentally change the economy.A decision about the top finishers is expected by mid-December.