Economic Development Day – 2019

By: Katie Weaver – The Hayner Hoyt Corporation

In envisioning what the design team wanted to accomplish for Economic Development Day 2019, we arrived at these goals: Create Awareness – Gain Perspective – Explore Impact.

With an emphasis on an inclusive and equitable economy being the ideal we’re all working towards, we centered our journey on building a deeper understanding of economic development in Central New York and highlighting the tasty local pride that exists in our community. Here’s a recap.

On Wednesday, August 14, we were greeted with a beautiful sunny morning where we met in the parking lot outside of Aloft Hotel on West Kirkpatrick Street. LGS members were asked to bring men’s ties or women’s business clothing to benefit 100 Black Men of Syracuse and the Women’s Opportunity Center respectively. Once everyone had gathered and donations were collected, we split off with our design team members to carpool to our first destination.

Create Awareness

We kicked off the day at SALTspace, a newly-opened performing arts center and collaborative event space that developed under the Near Westside Initiative. Andrew Fish, Senior Vice President of Business Development at CenterState CEO, set us up for success with a look at holistic economic development and what that means in our community. The basic definition is “creating shared wealth for everyone” and it relies on these principles: invest in strengths, add value, connect training to jobs, collaborate regionally, and success=dynamic growth where jobs are being created and leveraged to maximize benefit to the community. These principles align perfectly with CenterState CEO’s mission to create a place where businesses thrive and all people prosper.

Next we heard from Bob Petrovich, Director of Economic Development with Onondaga County who is working to:

  • Reduce or eliminate structural barriers to lift people out of poverty
  • Invest in infrastructure to improve local capacity for business growth and expansion
  • Engage existing and new businesses to encourage economic development

His main initiatives to impact poverty and economic development involve career fairs and targeted workforce training with the ultimate goal of increasing connections between the community and businesses to create greater job access for the unemployed.

Taste of local pride: Salt City Coffee and Water Street Bagels

Gain Perspective

We transitioned from awareness to perspective by bringing in Rickey Brown, Secretary of Syracuse IDA, to lead and take part in a round table discussion that delved into the reality of our current economic state with a focus on the unemployed. Unique viewpoints were covered by our own classmate Deka Dancil, President of the Urban Jobs Task Force, Mike Metzgar, Workforce Development at OCC, and David Nutting, Chairman & CEO of VIP Structures. It was unanimous that the most basic elements of an equitable economy involve diversity of thought and opportunities for all. What stuck with me is the importance of education (not necessarily traditional school) and training to create qualified job candidates, no matter their skin color or economic standing, who are meeting the economic demand for skills.

After a lunch break, we left SALTspace and headed back to Aloft where we met Michael Heagerty who led us on a tour of the Inner Harbor Creekwalk. Michael used to serve as a city tour guide and shared little known historical facts about the creekwalk.

Taste of local pride: Ponchito’s Taqueria

Explore Impact

Revived from lunch and a stroll in the afternoon sun, the tour served as the perfect segue into our presentation with Steve Aiello and Carlie Hanson from COR Development. They shared their extensive and exciting plans to further develop the inner harbor to create a “waterfront neighborhood” complete with restaurants, apartment buildings, luxury condos, businesses, the hotel, and mixed use office/retail spaces. Questions were raised about economic accessibility and sustainability for such a neighborhood without inclusion of a supermarket and below market rate housing.

We closed out the day with Rob Simpson, President & CEO of Centerstate CEO. The perfect blend of optimistic and realistic with a deep understanding of the struggles plaguing the community, Rob shared that we may not be where we want to be, but we are improving by leaps and bounds. Central New York has seen tremendous growth in the last 15 years and economic opportunity today is greater than it’s been in 30-40 years. To summarize his presentation and what we hope was taken away from this class day, the future is bright.

Taste of local pride: Big Softy’s Homemade Cookies