The Central New York Regional Economic Development council is bullish that its proposal for the New York State Upstate Revitalization Initiative will be a winner.
The proposal that was sent to Albany this week features six signature investments and asks for $450 million to fund them. They include: a more year-round agriculture economy; an inland transportation hub; and more services for veterans and strategies to help the homeless. Topping the list is research into the world of drones, according to council vice-chairman Rob Simpson.
“This Christmas season, it’s estimated there will be a million drones sold. A million drones. And right now there is no technology in place to incorporate them safely. And we in central New York have the ability to be a part of that solution and make central New York, not only nationally, but internationally relevant to that conversation,” said Simpson.
Albany will look at this and proposals from other six other upstate regions, to determine who will share $1.5 billion meant to invigorate a flagging upstate economy.
Simpson says the central New York proposal aims to create nearly 6,000 jobs, and transform the local economy. Simpson says this proposal, created without the help of any outside consultants, tackles persistent problems that local businesses have the capability of meeting head on.
The six strategies fit in with market opportunities of the region. For example, this would take advantage of the area’s big agricultural economy.
“We have cheap land. We have an agriculture heritage. We have clean water and access to that water that some other communities don’t have. And we want to position that to continue to grow, to extend the growing season, to have products packaged safer, to extend their shelf life, and ultimately reach those products to domestic markets, but markets all over the world,” said Simpson.
And, he admits it was difficult to choose among all the ideas the community has put forward.
"I think the hardest part for me in this processes has been realizing that in order to be successful in this competition, which has been our goal from the beginning, we have to be incredibly focused with the things we’re asking for investment in. Our proposal is very focused with six major strategic initiatives, much more focused than some of the other proposals you’ll see around the state.”
The state is expected to announce who gets the three $500 million awards by the end of the year.