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Economic development council looking for ideas for competition

Ellen Abbott
The Central New York Regional Economic Development Council meeting Thursday.

The Central New York Regional Economic Development Council is getting ready to put together a proposal for the latest competition for state economic development dollars.  

Things are a little different this year on the economic development competition front. Along with round five of the Regional Economic Development Council competition, localities are vying for money from the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. Council co-chairman Rob Simpson says that means the stakes are higher this time around, because there are more state funds than ever for the winners to pump into their regional economies. 

"Half a billion dollars is a large scale investment. That money also comes with less strings attached. So it doesn’t have to be just about bricks and mortar and capital projects  it can be about programs strategic programs and initiatives that we think can lay the groundwork for an economy long in the future.”

Simpson says the council is looking for ideas for economic development to include in the next application that’s due later this summer.

“We try very hard to be honest with ourselves. And that means relying on data. What’s actually happening within our industries, but it also means looking forward and looking at which markets are the greatest opportunities in, not only here but around the world and trying to align our strategies with those market opportunities.”

Simpson says he’s seen business trends change over the years as leaders have gotten together to chart an economic future.

“Four or five years ago, no one in this region was talking about unmanned aerial systems and the market opportunity that presents. I think if you look back ten years ago, agriculture wasn’t a big part of the conversation for our economy, and today food processing is one of the more important and growing elements of our regional economy.”

Central New York has received $344 million in state funding through the first four rounds of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development initiative. That’s more than any of the other nine regional councils that have been competing for the cash. Ten regions are vying for this year’s $500 million dollar competition.

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.