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Walsh pushes 'Syracuse Surge' in State of the City address

Ellen Abbott
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh delivers his State of the City address Thursday

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh gave his second State of the City address in front packed crowd at the Redhouse Arts Center Thursday evening, and went into detail on what he calls the biggest economic growth initiative in the city’s history.

The Syracuse Surge has already started with streetlights, according to Walsh. But not just any streetlights.17,500 fixtures equipped with technology, that will not only alert the city if a light goes out, but able to  allow everything from 5G and drone connectivity.

"Once we are done with it, we will be the largest connected city in the entire country," said Walsh.

It’s that connectivity that Walsh calls the fourth Industrial Revolution, something he believes will lead the city out of its economic doldrums. He said a "smart city" can leverage technology to advance the economy and create opportunity for all citizens. 

The signature investment of the Syracuse Surge will be the Southside Campus for a New Economy. It’s comprised of investments in several properties in the area southeast of downtown.  There will be upgrades at the Tech Garden, and the transformation of  the long-empty Central High School into a new regional science, technology, engineering, arts and math, or STEAM school. Walsh said this builds on the growth of high tech business in that part of the city.

"Me as mayor, I can’t manufacture that growth. That has to be organic, that has to be real," Walsh said. "In Syracuse, that’s where it’s happening. Our challenge with Syracuse Surge is how we expand on that opportunity."

Walsh said Syracuse Surge will be funded through more than $200 million in public and private funding already committed, with Gov. Cuomo already on board. And he believes this is the perfect time for this kind of initiative to be successful.

"We are in a moment right now in Syracuse. There is an alignment of leadership that extends beyond politics and governance, throughout the community. And people want to move this community forward and they want to work together and that’s the only way we’re going to get things done."

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.