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Central New York, Mohawk Valley think drones could help bid for Amazon's new HQ

Payne Horning
WRVO News File Photo
In June, NASA participated in a drone demonstration at the Griffiss International Airport, one of seven FAA-sponsored test sites for commercial drones in the nation.

Central New York and the Mohawk Valley are joining the race to win the coveted second headquarters of Amazon. The online retailer giant plans to invest as much as $4 billion to build their new campus and expects to create as many as 50,000 jobs.

The competition is drawing applications from major cities like Chicago and Philadelphia. The Syracuse-Utica-Rome area may seem like an untraditional addition to that lineup. But Andrew Fish with Centerstate CEO, an economic booster organization in central New York, says that's a good thing.

"From the standpoint of looking at where they are going to be able to draw their talent from, how far people will have to commute, the quality of life that they will have, the cost of living - I don’t believe it’s that much of a stretch," Fish said. 

Fish says they are proposing the Onondaga, Oneida, Oswego, Cayuga, Madison, Cortland and Herkimer county region to meet the one-million population requirement. And in areas where central New York and the Mohawk Valley may lack the big-city amenities like mass transit, Fish believes the state would make the necessary investments if they are selected.

"You’re talking about a 50,000 job opportunity where they are investing billions of dollars. The amount of money and amount of revenue that will be generated for municipalities and other services as a result of this type of project, changes entirely market dynamics as it relates to investments in mass transit, investments in infrastructure," Fish said. "There are definitely things in which we do not stack up to the other major metros in terms of existing infrastructure, but it’s the type of thing that it’s not like we don’t have the ability to scale and meet the needs necessary to deliver on that."

What Fish says what could set this region apart from the other applicants is the drone corridorthat New York state is building between the Syracuse Hancock International Airport and Rome Griffiss Air Force Base.

"A 50-mile, fully implemented unmanned aerial systems traffic management corridor where Amazon would be able to test their drone delivery under a number of different circumstances," he said. "That we believe is something they can't do anywhere else."

Fish says Amazon is already familiar with the drone corridor because the company has been in discussions with New York officials over the past two years.

The application is due Thursday.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.