State of the State Focused on Creating Opportunities for Central New York Families

Despite an overall improvement in the economy, Central New York families are still struggling and there’s still a lot more we can do to build up our businesses and create more opportunities right here at home. The governor’s State of the State address sounded all the right notes, and I’ll partner with him to enact a bold agenda to improve Central New York. In addition to staying firm on not introducing new taxes, we must focus our efforts on continued job growth and economic development.

Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Councils primed communities throughout the state – Central New York included – for real, tangible economic development and job growth. One of the most significant ideas mentioned was a partnership between higher education and the private sector, a one-two punch that would not just prepare students with adequate training and necessary skills for today’s workforce, it would place them in the jobs where their skills are needed the most.

As of August 2012, New York State’s private sector had an estimated 210,000 unfilled job openings because the skills of the labor force weren’t matching up with the needs of employers. Through the Next Generation Job Linkage Program, students at SUNY community colleges would be partnered with private-sector employers who would identify necessary job skills and work with the college to provide training. This would help ensure our job-training programs are excelling at preparing potential employees for the demands of today’s workforce. This program would provide a multitude of benefits by potentially helping businesses retain employees while increasing job opportunities for young people right here in CNY.

The Innovation Hot Spots Program would designate 10 higher education-private-sector “incubators” of high-tech innovation for start-up companies through a well laid out competition. Each REDC would create or further develop an existing incubator program into innovation hot spots for its particular region, and five winners would be chosen.

Governor Cuomo also detailed the Innovation NY Network, a program that would focus on the collaboration of academics, business leaders, venture capitalists, patent lawyers and countless other entrepreneurs to help develop and expand the commercialization process. This network is very similar to the Student Sandbox right here at Syracuse University’s TechGarden. By bringing these individuals together through the Innovation Hot Spots Program and the Innovation NY Network, we would be providing small businesses and aspiring leaders in our community with endless sources of knowledge and capital to get their ideas off the ground and into the marketplace.

The governor also noted the importance of supporting clean energy in New York State through a proposed NY Green Bank. Supporting local clean energy reduces our dependence of external sources of energy, which benefits families in more ways than one. The NY Green Bank would be a cost-effective way to capitalize on clean energy in our own backyards while also jumpstarting green technology innovation and creating more local economic development and job growth opportunities.