Potsdam's Clarkson University unveils economic development plan to revitalize North Country
Monday, November 11, 2013 - 9:18 am

 POTSDAM – Organizations based in Syracuse and Washington, D.C. have unveiled research and a regional plan for economic revitalization for the North Country.

CenterState CEO and the Brookings Institution, along with regional partners, released Friday at Clarkson University the CenterState Agenda for Economic Opportunity, which identifies five items with implications for redefining the region’s economic profile:

• the region holds strong potential to excel in new technology fields

• the growth in global markets can boost the region’s exports and global fluency

• the region’s “innovation ecosystem” is still emerging and requires new investment

• the region must retain and expand a skilled workforce, increase economic opportunity and develop employer-driven approaches to align workers and jobs

• the 21st century economy requires modernizing local government.

“Using their research-based approach to evaluating regional economies, the Brookings Institution has delivered an objective analysis, which has informed an economic agenda that highlights our shared commitment to responsible and sustainable job growth for New Yorkers,” said Anthony G. Collins, president of Clarkson University and co-chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. Collins also served on the steering committee for the work. “The strategies in the CenterState Agenda for Economic Opportunity [could] accelerate economic growth throughout the corridor that brings several of our New York State Regional Councils together.

“The North Country has strategic assets in education, agribusiness, manufacturing and technology that will strengthen the ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship and open up the gateway for global commerce,” said Collins.

Statements of support also came from other officials throughout the region.

Four initiatives are already the focus of major implementation efforts.

Among their recommendations are:

• establishing the Data to Decisions Innovation Alliance to promote growth through research, product and market development, and attraction of talent.

• launching a Regional Seed and Venture Fund which will offer needed investment support to emerging businesses in the region.

•establishing a Commission on Government Modernization to evaluate government and engage the community in the future of the region.

• implementing the CenterState Export Initiative to increase exports and find foreign direct investment opportunities.

The region that CenterState focuses on comprises 12 counties in northern and central New York: St. Lawrence, Lewis, Jefferson, Herkimer, Cayuga, Cortland, Oneida, Madison, Tompkins, Seneca, Oswego and Ononadaga.

“This dramatic shift in our regional economy over the last decade has created new realities and competitive dynamics for the region,” said Robert Simpson, president of CenterState CEO. “The economic base of CenterState New York is evolving, and we must be deliberate in how we steer our region’s economic future.”

The findings draw from discussions with hundreds of stakeholders, including business, government, philanthropy, and education partners, as well as technical expertise from Battelle Technology Partnership Practice. The plan has emerged from a metropolitan business planning framework provided by the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program and RW Ventures, LLC.

“This unique, 12-county collaboration will put CenterState New York on the global map by strengthening the region’s distinctive assets for long-term economic success,” said Amy Liu, senior fellow and co-director of the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program.

The work was done in tandem with the New York State Regional Economic Development Councils, drawing from the unprecedented public input and planning by the North Country, Central New York, Southern Tier, Finger Lakes, and Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development areas.

In 2011, CenterState New York was the only region in the country selected to develop a Metropolitan Business Plan while working with Brookings on a Metropolitan Export Initiative, which was released in April 2012. The resulting plan provides a new regional economic development strategy and business growth plan across 12 counties.

The full market analysis that produced the CenterState Agenda for Economic Opportunity can be read at www.centerstateopportunity.com. In addition, the site includes appendices, metro profiles, strategies, and opportunities for engagement.

CenterState CEO defines itself as a regional business leadership organization, chamber of commerce, and economic development strategist, based in Syracuse. Among its directors is Clarkson University President Anthony Collins.

The current organization represents a merger four years ago of two 75-year-old organizations, the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce and the Metropolitan Development Association of Syracuse and Central New York, as they decided on a joint “super-regional” emphasis.

The organization says it has 2,000 members of all sizes in a twelve-county area, with aims of advocating smart business, facilitating regional growth, and promoting community prosperity.