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The Upstate Economy

Katko speaks with local leaders about vital infrastructure development

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WRVO Public Media File Photo
John Katko held a roundtable to discuss CNY infrastructure development.

A surge in economic development could be coming to Central New York, and U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said he wants to provide the federal support to make that happen. 

Katko said he helped put together the Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure Report at a recent summit in Annapolis, MD. It’s a bipartisan starting point that he hopes will lead to a significant federal investment in local projects. 

During a recent roundtable meeting with Katko, many local leaders said now is the time to get moving.

Randy Wolken, president of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York, or MACNY, told Katko the area is poised for dramatic growth.

"More projects than ever, more opportunities for work, (more) improvement in terms of upscaling jobs than ever, so I'm pretty excited about our future, but we're really going to need your help to get there,” said Wolken.

Leaders from across Onondaga, Oswego, Cayuga and Wayne counties spoke about what they saw as the most significant infrastructure issues. 

Several mentioned the digital divide, a problem Katko said has been highlighted by the pandemic.

"For kids at home from school, if you don't have access to the Internet, you've got a problem,” said Katko. “Also, for telemedicine, telehealth, telecounseling, all those things that are coming of age, and it's not just a city problem.  It's a rural problem, too."

With the new Amazon warehouse coming to Clay, transportation is also high on the list, including improvements in the airport, to scaling up bus routes.

“Those are the types of jobs that help people get up out of poverty, but if you can’t to the workplace, like 1 in 4 people in Syracuse can’t because they don’t have a car, we’re spinning our wheels,” said Katko. “We want those people to be able to get on a bus and get to work in a timely fashion, and that’s why that’s very important, and I’m very supportive of it.”

Jim D’Agostino from the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council says the multi-billion dollar Interstate 81 project is a high priority.

"It's so much money and has so much spinoff economic development in our community, in addition to the transportation needs,” said D’Agostino. “It's just huge, and it really needs that federal buy-in."

Katko also spoke about preserving and improving our area waterways, an investment he thinks could lead to chip manufacturing development down the line.