Genesis Group presents "Our View"
"Jobs and The Local Economy"
by Raymond J. Durso, Jr.
At the beginning of this year our region was thriving with a vibrant economy that included many new and exciting projects. But then the Covid-19 Pandemic arrived in our valley, bringing new challenges as we are forced to adjust to a “New Reality”. Our first challenge is to remain positive and do whatever we can to support each other. Right now we are asked to stand apart to better protect one another's health, but for the past 20 years The Genesis Group has reminded us that we can do so much more when we stand together.
The Genesis Group is providing “adaptive leadership” and working to continue our region’s forward momentum. Genesis has these leadership skills for these changing times. We remain focused on the community's agenda, and are actively pursuing our established projects in the areas of Data Analytics, Education, Healthcare, Technology, Agriculture, Public Safety, Insurance and Banking and Finance.
Let's face it, all communities have challenges, but I believe they have opportunities too. Our recent challenges or situations are not new. They've happened before and a look back at our region’s history can help us learn how to address our current needs by its examples that adaptive leadership in trying times brought hope to the region in the past.
I did some research and found that from 1798 until the advent of the Erie Canal in 1817 – 1825, the Mohawk Valley was a small wilderness community growing at a slow pace. The canal rejuvenated our transportation and forwarding businesses, commerce and trade reigned supreme, and new hope was born. In 1845, transportation and forwarding industries lost out to the emerging railroads. Our community’s adaptive leaders made a voyage to New England to learn about the new industrial power, “steam.” They brought this knowledge, and economic hope, back to our area and the textile industry began its steady climb to the top, eventually becoming the textile capital of the world. It stayed this way until the exodus of the textile mills to the south in the early 1950s.
The Mohawk Valley region was in a position to once again re-invent itself. Again, our community’s adaptive leaders sought the prominent industries in the fields of electronics, aviation and automobiles, bringing back hope with the presence of General Electric, Chicago Pneumatic and other related companies.
Now it is our turn as our current adaptive leaders look to renew our economy and our quality of life with the conveyor of hope in the form of nanotechnology, cyber-security, drones and other high-tech industries. For the past few years the region's economy has been growing, adding new jobs, new companies and a renewed spirit of enthusiasm had taken shape. Then, the Coronavirus seemed to bring everything to a halt. We all know that the pandemic continues to impact the world's economy. As businesses and companies work to reopen and stabilize, the challenge has been much harder for some, forcing some businesses to file for bankruptcy and others to close.
So the age-old question needs to be asked once again. What is the future of the Mohawk Valley's economy? How can our retail stores be saved? How can we entice new stores to open here? How can we help companies that are currently struggling? And, how do we build upon the momentum to land more technology- based companies that can include new jobs?
As part of this special report, The Genesis Group reached out to area Elected Officials and Economic Development agencies and asked them to address these concerns. During the next week, we will share their responses.
In the mean time, The Genesis Group will continue its role of using Adaptive Leadership to stay focused on the “new reality” as we use these skills to apply the lessons learned from our history to help build a “better Mohawk Valley region.”
by Steven J. DiMeo
As we come together to face the COVID-19 pandemic and its lasting impacts, we at Mohawk Valley EDGE stand ready to continue our work in innovative ways during these challenging times. Every decision we make is being guided by our long-standing commitment to the betterment of the Mohawk Valley economy.
We are committed to thinking long-term about our mission – to strengthen existing businesses, attract new industries and talent to the region, and build a vibrant environment for companies and their employees – despite the challenges caused by COVID-19 and its ramifications on the region’s economy. As expected, there was some disruption to the regular programs we are able to offer to our regional businesses, but we are proactively exploring ways that we continue to help. This includes our recently announced Oneida County Microenterprise Grant Program, the Utica Industrial Development Corporation COVID-19 Loan Program, the Oneida County Mask Buying Consortium, the inaugural Oneida County Shop Small Business Week, and the distribution of over 200+ Restart Oneida County Reopening Kits.
We are working with our partners in Oneida County, Herkimer County, the Cities of Rome, Utica, Sherrill, and many of our historic towns and villages to strengthen American manufacturing, revitalize our urban core, create global tourism destinations, build resilient infrastructure, help families to overcome barriers to employment, and pursue the advanced industries of the future. This is even more important as many of our municipalities are facing unprecedented financial shortfalls and our greatest strength, our people, are facing staggering unemployment and access to adequate childcare.
We are fortunate that the major initiatives announced last year are progressing as evident by the unprecedented level of construction activity within the region as $2.3 billion in construction is underway.
The $1 billion Cree|Wolfspeed project is underway and is a visible part of the region’s skyline. Cree’s Mohawk Valley Fab will be the world’s largest silicon carbide semiconductor facility in the world and hiring has already begun.
The Air Force Research Lab’s Innovare Advancement Center is an exciting partnership between AFRL, SUNY, Griffiss Institute, Oneida County and other strategic partners in the advancement of quantum computing. Oneida County with AFRL has developed state of the art labs and research space to support efforts that will foster growth of the region’s economy in this important field.
Located in the same building, Oneida County is building and equipping Skydome to support indoor drone testing, which adds to the capabilities at the Griffiss UAS Test Site.
Construction projects at Griffiss are in full swing with construction underway with Orgill’s northeast distribution center. This 780,000 square foot facility is expected to be operational by mid-2021.
Additional construction projects at Griffiss include:
· M.A. Polce’s expansion of its IT/cyber security offices;
· Bonacio Construction is building a 40,000 square foot office building that is under lease to two major defense contractors who are expanding operation;
· Bonacio Construction also expects to complete their first Phase of Air City Lofts, which consists of 84 units of loft style market rate apartments and 26,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space. The company has announced plans to proceed with Phase 2 development of Air City Lofts that will add another 72 apartments and another 25,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space.
Our region is the point of the spear as the nation explores new frontiers in cyber security, unmanned systems, and advanced electronics. Commercial drones and unmanned deliveries will be made possible through the work we do right here. And the future of electric vehicles depends wholly on the power electronics that will be produced here in the Mohawk Valley by Cree|Wolfspeed.
Downtowns and waterfronts across the archipelago of small cities and villages in the Mohawk Valley are virtually unrecognizable as compared to a decade ago. The momentum is building in Rome both in their Brownfield Opportunity Area and Downtown Revitalization Initiative district, including the now under construction Cold Point manufacturing facility; combined with the concentrated effort to connect the city to Griffiss Park along the Floyd Ave corridor with anchor projects like Air City Lofts, the City is poised to attract even more investment. Now more than ever we have seen people flock to outdoor destinations for recreation, shopping, entertainment and dining and it remains paramount that we continue to work on the redevelopment of our downtown cores.
In Utica, business and community leaders are reimagining downtown as a year-round destination for entertainment, recreation, sports, and urban living. Utica is unquestionably in the throes of an unprecedented economic transformation, fueled by construction of the MVHS campus and the City has received approval to finalize the slate of projects and initiatives under the Downtown Revitalization.
The Mohawk Valley like other regions is grappling with the impacts associated with COVID-19 and the downturn in the nation’s economy. Fortunately for the Mohawk Valley, we have significant momentum and targeted investments in key economic drivers that offer long term economic opportunity with upside economic growth that will make us a stronger region.
There is no doubt, we are all in this together. We are working closely with all of our partners to navigate how we can best serve our business community. We seek to engage with and learn from our partners, so that we can share resources, information, approaches, and important regional support.
As you can see from our 2019 – 2020 Annual Report, our regional outlook remains strong. We have a lot of work to do to maintain the steady progress we have seen over the past decade, but we as a community are up to the challenge.
By Senator Joe Griffo
New ‘abnormal’ presents unique opportunity to reimagine and reestablish Mohawk Valley’s economy
As we enter a new abnormal and businesses slowly begin to adapt to the restrictions and regulations in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have a significant opportunity to shape and develop the economic recovery of the Mohawk Valley and Upstate New York.
While the pandemic has presented challenges to businesses and others, it also has provided the unique opportunity to reimagine the regional economy and business climate. I applaud Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. and his staff for proposing the Reconnect Oneida County program to attract remote workers to the area. Innovative, outside-of-the-box ideas such as this are what we need to propel the region forward, and I am optimistic that we will see more in the coming months.
Additionally, this is an opportunity to reestablish our economy and to recommit to and reintroduce American companies, products and industries. By doing so, we can help our communities, businesses, state and nation overcome the obstacles, hurdles and impediments that have resulted from the pandemic and regrow, revitalize and rejuvenate our economy.
While we have seen welcome investment and growth throughout the region, economic diversification is key because we cannot rely on just a few high-tech sectors like nanotechnology and cyber-security. We must do all we can to retain, strengthen and expand our homegrown businesses. They are the true success stories that have helped shape our region and cannot be forgotten, even as we look to the future.
It is important that we continue to focus on reducing taxes and energy costs, easing mandates on local governments, implementing regulatory reform, creating jobs, promoting economic opportunity and making our state more affordable for businesses and residents. I advocate for such in Albany - as I have always done - because I truly believe that is the best approach to make our state more attractive and competitive for business.
There will be no one-size-fits-all path to economic recovery for New York, and each region should work to strengthen its communities in a way that suits its businesses and residents best. I believe that Mohawk Valley businesses can rise to the challenge of overcoming the new economic conditions in which we find ourselves.
by Assemblywoman Buttenschon
When 2020 began, the Mohawk Valley was bustling with energy. No matter where you went in Utica, Rome, Marcy, Frankfort, Floyd, or Whitestown, you could find new businesses opening and an array of highly anticipated projects finally being realized.
At the beginning of the year we were all aware that New York State was in a difficult situation and needed to close a deficit of billions of dollars. The Executive Budget and various Legislative reports had already forecast a slowing in economic growth for both 2020 and 2021, but the outlook for both the economy and revenue remained relatively healthy. Many of these reports had, unfortunately, been completed prior to March 2020 and many had warnings stating that the spread of the novel coronavirus posed evolving downsides and risks to economic activity.
Initially, we all hoped that the spread of the virus could be contained and the impacts on the United States would be minimal. By March, a pandemic was raging that was unparalleled to anything that had happened in over a century. In an unprecedented move, schools were closed, businesses shifted to a work-from-home model, and our national and state economies were put on hold in order to protect lives. These moves resulted in massive layoffs and lost income for millions of New Yorkers, along with a dramatic drop in revenues for businesses and governments.
Several questions were quickly raised: How long would businesses need to be closed or at reduced capacity? How many wouldn’t be able to reopen? How do we assist small businesses and target aid to them during this crisis? We still do not know exactly how long COVID-19 will remain a major threat meaning that economic and budgetary uncertainty is the worst we have seen in decades and will remain so for quite some time.
Over the past few months, the federal and state government have acted to support small businesses through various approaches. The Legislature has acted on legislation which would require Empire State Development to coordinate with all state agencies and state authorities to create a clearinghouse on its website where small businesses can easily find information on state programs (A.10119/S.7350); require state agencies to consider and mitigate the impact of new rules and regulations on job creation (A.6747/S.2839); require the New York Secretary of State to provide information directly to small businesses upon filing with the Department of State regarding regulatory agencies, assistance programs, resources, and other relevant information (A.10123/S.7355); and create a dedicated office and staff within state agencies responsible for small business oversight that is empowered and intended to assist small businesses in regulatory matters (A.10187/S7357).
The Assembly also passed legislation (A.10563/S.8452) that I introduced this June which would provide businesses with liquor licenses a credit on their license for each day they were unable to operate due to COVID-19. Additionally, legislation that I introduced with State Senator Rachel May (A.7104/S.3873) which would allow BOCES to establish and encourage young farmer apprentice programs to recruit farmers and protect our agriculture industry and food supply was passed in both the Assembly and Senate this July.
In addition to legislation, I have worked with the Governor’s office, my colleagues in the Assembly and Senate, and our local business owners and elected officials to ensure economic development projects in our area could continue and to address issues related to reopening and the lack of guidance for so many industries.
Of course, more must be done to protect our small businesses and New York’s economy. We must work to target relief to small businesses most negatively impacted by COVID-19 and New York’s phased regional economic shutdowns and reopenings. This process includes working with our federal, state, and local partners to develop flexible programs to assist with the costs of personal protective equipment and other business expenses and providing businesses still shut down or operating under severely limiting restrictions with guidance and timelines for their futures.
I will continue to advocate for childcare funding for families who would be unable to continue working or return to work without it and work to ensure local non-profits are supported so they can continue supporting our communities. COVID-19 will continue to have significant impacts on education, healthcare and local governments – it is imperative we ensure these are protected and funded for the sake of our community and small businesses.
In these difficult and uncertain times, it can be hard to imagine the future, but make no mistake – the Mohawk Valley and the Empire State will recover. Together we have overcome many challenges, and I know we will make it through this one. I wish you and your loved ones good health and safety. Thank you for all the efforts you have taken to adjust your lives to keep yourselves and your neighbors safe in the face of this global pandemic.
by Assemblyman Brian Miller
THE LOCAL ECONOMY DURING & POST-COVID-19
The economy in New York State has always been a topic of great concern for residents as the state continually ranks in the bottom five in the nation. Locally, the Mohawk Valley had started to turn a corner. Economic development projects were beginning to take off, the economy was picking up, and good jobs were being created. Then, COVID-19 hit and the economy took a downward spiral, state- and nationwide.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit us hard, and we’re still not out of the woods. Some of us contracted the virus and some of us have lost loved ones. As you know, I battled COVID-19 for months to get back on my feet, back to my family, and back to working hard for our residents. It wasn’t easy; it was very hard. With the support of friends and loved ones, I made a comeback. That will be the case for our economy and for our region. It will not be a quick or an easy recovery; it will be a long road back, especially as we adjust to a “new normal,” but we will work together to thrive once again.
In that light, we must look ahead at the projects already underway that will help build our economy back up and get our residents back to work. There are nearly 100 active projects going on in the Mohawk Valley and that list continues to grow. The following projects are just some of the projects that will build our communities back up:
· Cree Wolfspeed Mohawk Valley Fab at the Marcy Nanocenter:
A $1 billion fabrication facility – the largest in the world;
Committed to hiring north of 600 employees over its first eight years;
The Marcy Nanocenter site has space for two additional fabrication facilities;
Could create up to 5,000 more local jobs.
· Mohawk Valley Health System Health Campus in Downtown Utica:
· A 25-acre, 702,000 square foot, ten story facility;
· An inpatient unit with 373 beds;
· An inpatient unit, emergency department, imaging, surgical and interventional services, a birthing center, and conference/meeting places.
· Duofold Site Development in Ilion:
· A 14-acre vacant lot, with 169,000 square feet of re-development space, purchased last year by the Village;
· The site has played a crucial part in the economic development efforts of the Mohawk Valley for nearly 200 years;
· Recently went through EPA-funded studies to assess site and prepare for development;
· Phase II studies about to begin to collect samples and assess any potential environmental contamination, followed by remediation plan;
· Prime re-development site with low-power costs, high-speed internet, and close proximity to I-90.
· Reconnect Oneida County Program
· Designed to attract former residents of Oneida County who are now working remotely in their careers;
· Partnering with MVCC thINCcubator, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the Griffiss Institute;
· Offers an opportunity for displaced former residents to return home and the potential to have businesses open satellite offices in Oneida County to host these employees;
· Will seek state and federal aid to build out broadband access.
These projects are not only exciting opportunities for economic development in the Mohawk Valley, but they are essential to our recovery, post-COVID-19 and beyond.
Additional upsides in our local economy include building on projects that will happen with the use of well-paying, union jobs. Local residents will be making livable wages to support their families, while providing a boost to the local economy.
The housing market is also booming and homes are selling fast. The home building industry is benefiting from the housing boom, and major projects throughout the Mohawk Valley will only help this as good jobs are created and families are attracted to the area.
It is no secret that there has been a massive outmigration of New York State residents over the last decade. We have lost more than one million residents to surrounding states, or states that are simply more tax and business friendly. The Mohawk Valley, and the state as a whole, must continue looking forward – with economic development in mind – if we are to fully recover from the economic crisis brought on by this pandemic.
As I have already mentioned, it will not be easy. Nothing about the situation we are in has been easy. Depending on whether or not we come together and do what is best for our communities, it may still get harder before we improve, but with the exciting opportunities on the horizon for our region, we will see life improve, and our economy thrive once again.
Assemblyman Miller represents the 101st District consisting of parts of Delaware, Herkimer, Oneida, Orange, Otsego, Sullivan and Ulster counties. For more information, please visit his Official Website.
By John Piseck
"Society may be on pause however we are planning for economic recovery now"
A couple of months into the COVID-19 pandemic, I decided to add this tag line to all of my outgoing emails. At the Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency (HCIDA), up until that point, we had been gaining a lot of momentum and things were really starting to happen for the area. So, although the world slowed down a little, we used that time to step up our marketing and continue to entice developers to bring companies and jobs to Herkimer County.
Never before have any of us faced a crisis of this scope and scale; however, economic developers are adept at seeing the big picture and trying to envision the future. Many of the organizations represented here today came into being during times of economic uncertainty. In order to grow and thrive, communities must encourage partnerships between economic development agencies, businesses leaders, local and state elected officials, and potential stakeholders, especially during times like these. Recovery will require the support of all involved in order to keep the region moving forward.
Herkimer County is located along the Erie Canal at the foothills of the Adirondacks, with over 66,000 residents. Our major employers represent the agriculture, health care, distribution, and small manufacturing sectors and many of our businesses are small, with 10 or fewer employees. Centrally located, halfway between Albany and Syracuse, Herkimer County is an excellent choice for development and growth. We have land, infrastructure, and employees to support new development projects.
Listed are a few of the projects we are currently working on.
In January the HCIDA closed on 188 acres of land adjacent to the existing Schuyler Business Park making this park the perfect spot for our next phase of growth. We continue to focus on the development of renewable energy projects and Herkimer County is one of the few counties in NYS to utilize wind, solar, and hydro sources for power.
Brownfield properties are another focus area for the HCIDA. In Ilion, the Duofold site is now in phase II environmental testing and a number of other brownfield sites in the county are currently in phase I.
In April our $200,000 Microenterprise Grant program was renewed and so far, our 2-2-2 Small Business Loan/Grant program has already assisted 5 small businesses this year.
In May we submitted a grant application to the Northern Border Regional Commission Board (NBRC) to assist with the construction of a water transmission line that would run from the Town of Schuyler to the Village of Herkimer with connections to the Town of Herkimer and the Villages of Frankfort and Ilion. NBRC received 125 applications this year requesting more than $68M in funding, a 35% increase over 2019. We were notified a month ago that out of the 125, only 39 applications were approved and we were one of them! A grant totaling $1,000,000 will now be used towards the construction of this water transmission line that will provide service to over 22,000 residents.
Finally, we continue to work on a housing study in partnership with the Town of Webb, which will hopefully be completed this fall.
In closing, I am excited for all the great things that are continuing to happening in Herkimer County and the Mohawk Valley Region. However, none of this would have come to pass without the support the HCIDA has received from the Herkimer County Legislature, the County Administrator and the individual local community leadership. Also, working together with Mohawk Valley EDGE on a number of projects has proved to be a great partnership as well.
By Mayor Robert Palmieri
Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, the City of Utica was experiencing transformational development. While no community or municipality is immune to the negative fiscal impacts of the pandemic, the City was proactive and took the following actions; Reduced spending of daily operations Decreased major capital purchases by 75% Instituted a hiring freeze for all vacant positions Temporarily eliminated 80% of part-time employees Reduced non-essential overtime Reduced salary of several part-time employees Sought voluntary furlough for certain full-time positions Issued an early retirement incentive program for CSEA members and nonunion employees These measures were necessary; however, continued economic development is the key to overcoming the setbacks brought forth by the pandemic.
I am pleased to report that many projects are moving forward. Below is an update on some of the major projects and initiatives throughout the City; Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) The City of Utica was awarded $10 million through Governor Cuomo’s DRI and several major milestones have either been met or will be met in the upcoming weeks, including: On August 5th, the Local Planning Committee (LPC) reviewed and discussed approximately $17.5 million of potential projects and recommended a final slate of $13.5 million in priority projects. The $13.5 million slate of priority projects will leverage over $60 million in investment. Following the August 5th meeting, the LPC members voted on the slate of priority projects. On September 3 rd, the LPC presented the DRI Strategic Investment Plan, including the slate of projects, to the public for its review and comment prior to submitting a final plan to the State. The City’s final DRI plan is expected to be formally submitted to the State by late September/early October. The State will review the recommended slate and likely announce the projects selected for funding the first quarter of 2021.
Harbor Point In spite of the pandemic, enormous strides have been made over the last six months in advancing the Administration’s vision for developing Harbor Point, including: A nearly $6 million project to reconstruct bulkhead walls was completed. Reconstruction of the bulkhead walls is a critical infrastructure component in the development of recreational and boating uses on the water. Earlier this summer, the City awarded a roughly $500,000 contract to extend Wurz and Wells Avenues further into the harbor, which will provide public access to the 16 acres of developable land at Harbor Point. Discussions continue with private developers who have expressed interest in the rehabilitation of the 1933 building, as well as the 16-acre parcel.
Downtown Hospital One of the region’s most transformative projects is the construction of Mohawk Valley Health Systems’ regional medical center. There have been several recent developments with the project, including; All of the building lot clearance within the hospital footprint has been completed, along with much of the necessary utility upgrades in the bed of Columbia Street, as well as soil stabilization throughout the site and work on the building footings and foundation. Steel for the structure of the building is being delivered to the site with erection anticipated to begin in mid-September.
In addition to these projects, a number of major private developments have either continued or commenced over these last six months, including: A ground breaking ceremony was held in early August for the Fitness Mill’s relocation to Utica. Construction is expected to be complete in Spring 2021. Construction continues at Globe Mill on the development of 150 mixedincome housing units in west Utica. With the completion of those units nearing, the developer has begun accepting housing applications. In east Utica, a long-vacant former Rite-Aid and Dollar General store on Mohawk Street is being transformed into an Advance Auto Parts. The store recently opened and is expected to hire roughly ten employees.
We have been fortunate these initiatives and projects have moved forward, but at the onset of the pandemic it was clear our existing businesses would face tremendous struggles just to survive. To address this reality, I directed the City’s Economic Development staff to shift their focus and City resources to the retention of Utica businesses and their employees. As a result, $300,000 in funding was allocated to 33 existing businesses within the City of Utica that agreed to retain their low-to moderate- income employees for up to eight weeks during the first few months of the pandemic.
While business and employment retention was a priority and an important component of our plan, in order for neighborhoods to thrive residents must also have stability and peace of mind when it comes to their housing. Working collaboratively with community partners, we were able to utilize funding, secured by our federal representatives, to provide $1 million in assistance to both renters and homeowners who have been impacted by the pandemic and are unable to pay their rent or mortgage. As these projects, initiatives, developments and priorities move forward, the City is on a positive trajectory, and I anticipate continued growth in the months to come.
Congressman Anthony Brindisi
The last few months have been incredibly difficult for our communities, but our response to the coronavirus pandemic has shown Upstate New Yorkers at our best. When the pandemic hit, we came together to support one another and worked hard to flatten the curve. Upstate manufacturers switched from their normal production lines to making PPE, hand sanitizer, and other tools to keep us safe. Farmers across the Mohawk Valley partnered with New York State to ensure families in need did not go without food. Our frontline workers showed up every day to keep our communities running. The road to recovery for our local economy will be a long one, but I am proud to be in the fight alongside you.
Since the start of this national nightmare, I’ve been working to deliver relief to families and communities who are struggling. I’m working with Democrats and Republicans to help Upstate New York bounce back, and we’ve secured more than $155 million in economic aid for New York’s 22nd District.
Back in March – which feels like a lifetime ago – I voted to pass the CARES Act to deliver resources to our frontline health care workers, help our small businesses keep the lights on, and put money directly into the hands of hardworking Americans. The CARES Act was a great start, and an example of how we can get things done if we cut the partisan politics and work together, but more needs to be done.
Our state and local governments are reeling from unexpected COVID expenses and loss of tax revenue, and there is an urgent need for federal financial assistance. This pandemic is far from over, and the last thing we need is cuts to our essential services and mass layoffs. And congressional leaders are dragging their feet.
That’s why I worked with Democrats and Republicans to find a common sense, bipartisan plan we can all agree on to help the millions of Americans who are struggling. The Problem Solvers Caucus – a group of 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans from the House and Senate – recently introduced our “March to Common Ground” framework to address key areas of need, including COVID-19 testing, unemployment insurance, direct stimulus payments, worker and liability protection, small business and non-profit support, food security, schools and child care, housing, election support, and state and local aid. Families and local economies across the country are facing real problems and we cannot wait any longer for Washington to act. We’re urging congressional leaders to get back to the negotiating table and use our proposal as a path forward.
As New York State continues the reopening process, we need everyone to work together to get back to where we were before this crisis. The Genesis Group’s work to support the Mohawk Valley is invaluable, and I’ll keep working in Congress to make long-term investments in our state’s economy. I look forward to working together to get New York back on track.
Mayor Jacqueline Izzo
The City of Rome is very proud of the fact that we are continuing to make significant economic progress despite the effects of the pandemic on the overall economy. We were able to successfully keep all of our housing and business construction projects on track throughout the shutdown and continue our plans to bring more jobs and residents to the city.
In June, Rome’s newest housing project, Dewitt Clinton Apartments began accepting new residents. The $20 million development features 66 one and two bedroom apartments along with 20 townhouse units. The property is located on the former Dewitt Clinton School site in South Rome and offers the latest in amenities to its tenants.
Bonacio Construction targets November 2020 to begin filling Phase 1 of Rome’s newest mixed use complex, AirCity Lofts at Griffiss Business and Technology Park. AirCity Lofts featuring 84 one and two bedroom market rate apartments overlooking the Griffiss runway with first floor commercial spaces. Phase 2 of this development will be underway in the very near future.
Coldpoint continues construction of their 50,000 square foot manufacturing facility in downtown Rome. This Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) project will secure 35 jobs and build an infrastructure for the company to support more job growth. Next door the DEC has completed a $14 million demolition and environmental clean up of the former Building 4 complex of Rome Cable. Removing this blight from the center of our city will allow us to utilize a $1M RESTORE grant to being site preparation work in anticipation of attracting an industrial client to the site.
Premium office space for our defense related contractors, especially those servicing cybersecurity and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) initiatives, is always at the top of list. Work continues on a 40,000 square foot office building at the Griffiss Park to service two defense related contractors. This facility owned and operated by Bonacio Construction will provide a state of the art space for two very successful companies supporting Rome Lab.
Oneida County is nearing completion of Building 100 renovation. This multimillion dollar investment will feature Innovare, an open campus, collaborative research and development area managed by the Griffiss Institute, to support Rome Laboratory. It will also be home to Skydome, an indoor staging area for ongoing UAS testing.
Rome recently completed two rounds of DRI Business Development funding resulting in three new businesses joining our downtown revitalization area.
As we look ahead to 2021, there is financial uncertainty due to the pandemic. We are working diligently to close funding gaps in anticipation of presenting a fair and balanced budget for the next fiscal year. We will certainly have many challenges ahead of us, but we are also in a position for strong, long term economic growth. We must not lose sight of continuing to build upon the solid economic development foundation we have created because we are beginning to reap the benefits of that strategy in growth all over our city.
NYS Assemblyman Robert J. Smullen
As we adjust to life with a virus such as COVID-19, we must look at our region’s economy. With the pandemic looming in the background of many business decisions, the upcoming months will be different than ever before as our region begins to operate in reaction to change. This doesn’t necessarily mean that different equals bad.
In terms of the economy, our outlook has changed since the crisis began. Many different industries have been affected by social distancing, resulting in different economic recoveries. The agriculture sector, which went from milk dumping to a quick rebound, is mostly operating with a “V-shaped” economic recovery. Other businesses in the area are experiencing a longer rate of stagnation because of the types of operations and are “U-shaped” recovery.
Education, of course, must also be addressed. The uncertainty of how this school year will look is stressful for parents, kids, and teachers alike. If we do look to the positive side of things, however, this pandemic has been the catalyst for the permanent reshaping of secondary and higher education. The younger generation learns in a different way than any other generation, and this change in instruction, whether in person or distanced, may be the beginning of a different way to learn.
Because of the need for educational access, there has been an acceleration of universal broadband. Especially in rural areas, there are still pockets of isolation for internet access. I also expect to see e-commerce booming as a result, including more people working from home on a more permanent basis.
Fundamentally, I believe that we must have a positive outlook in this situation. Our region will survive, as we are willing to adapt to changes as we always have done. It is anticipated that a safe, effective vaccine will be available by late fall, and until then we must carry on with our lives. The economy and our schools will adjust, as the natural optimism in our region will once again come through as we move past this virus.
Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr.
As we welcomed in 2020, our sights were clearly focused on a growing economy and development not seen in decades. Blight was being removed, stagnant buildings were being renovated, new industry was emerging and a new and positive outlook for an area that had suffered disappointment and hardship had arrived. Then the pandemic struck. In the six months of pause and reopening, we did not give up hope or stop completely in our tracks. We responded to the crisis as one community.
Since March, when the entire world changed we have been challenged as a people, as a country, as a state and as a community. Our first response was to deal with the health and safety of our residents. We did so by closing schools and senior centers. We began buying PPE for our hospitals, first responders and local governments. All before the state took action. We were the first county in the state to enact a mandatory public mask order that was actually enforceable. All of these actions, and dozens more, have led us to a point in time where our infection rate is among the lowest in the state and our active caseload has been on the decline for weeks. The commitment by our residents to adhere to these restrictions under the most difficult circumstances, to say the least, is what got us to this point and allows us to continue to improve every day.
Of course, the other side of this coin is the economy that has taken a dip from the highest peak to the lowest valley. Everyone has felt the bite, from big business to small. Many who had to close for weeks and those who operated at reduced capacity have all had to endure hardship. Employees from every sector have been laid off and many may not return to those once secure jobs that provided for them and their families.
Our goal during this has been to ensure those businesses that can operate safely do so, and to see those who have been closed can reopen as soon as possible and get people back to work. In addition, there were several projects underway that were a part of the renaissance of our region. We had to ensure that those could continue under state restrictions and after being determined essential.
The new regional medical facility in Utica has continued to develop with demolition completed on the main footprint allowing site work to begin. The Cree building in Marcy has made tremendous progress as well, keeping that project on schedule as planned. In Rome, the Orgill distribution center has also progressed on schedule and the Innovare Advancement Center has been completed and opened for its first program and competition on September 1st.
These projects are paramount to our success even more now than before this pandemic began. The fact that they have continued practically uninterrupted will guarantee that our economic growth will move forward.
Cree, MVHS, Orgill, Innovare Advancement Center. These are not just projects for economic development, they are cornerstones to a new future and critical to weathering the devastation caused by the economic hurricane of COVID-19.
We must find ways, in an unprecedented time of fiscal and economic crisis, to build on these cornerstones. We must move forward strategically and comprehensively.
With Cree, Innovare, and other technology based companies and organizations such as AFRL and the county’s one of seven FAA Drone testing sites in the nation, we need to find creative ways to build on our technology sectors and our rapidly growing digital economy.
Recently we have announced an initiative aimed to do just that: Reconnect Oneida County. We will work to bring people that can work digitally or remotely back to our community. This will enhance our talent pool, recruit high-paying jobs and represent the first step in embracing a new economy. One that recruits the talent first, knowing the companies will follow.
We must continue to adapt to the new world and seek opportunities in the midst of crisis. We must look towards our physical development sites and ensure they are prepared for a likely wave of on-shoring business who look to avoid supply chain issues that disrupt their businesses and cost billions. We are uniquely prepared to do just that.
These challenges are not unique to Oneida County. Every local community is facing this pandemic, largely alone. It is my job and the job of this government to continue to find a way to move us forward. We will attack our post-pandemic reality with the same fortitude, decisiveness and effectiveness as we have the pandemic itself.
We will continue to identify opportunities, minimize our weaknesses and build upon our strengths to create a post-pandemic economy that keeps us on the path of growth and prosperity we knew just a few short months ago.
I still believe, despite this pandemic, that Oneida County’s best days are ahead. Together, as one community, we will weather this storm and come out on the other side, stronger, united and better than before.