January 23, 2019

Grains of Salt (v42): The State of the City (pt. 2)

Grains of Salt
In yesterday's post, I took things a little out of order and focused on what had been accomplished in Mayor Ben Walsh's first year in office.Today, it's all about the future, and the Syracuse Surge.

What's that, you might be wondering? The Syracuse Surge?  Well, here's how the mayor set the state:
As is customary in a State of the City address, I've prepared a report on the past year and information on plans ahead in 2019. Something exciting, though, happened earlier this week in Albany. In his 2019 State of the State, Governor Cuomo took special note of what is happening in our city. He reported on a "resurgence" occurring here. And he committed strong support for the Syracuse Surge, a new strategy to ignite growth and economic opportunity in Syracuse and the region. So, before going into what we accomplished in 2018, I'll begin with the story behind the Syracuse Surge and how we believe it will help us achieve our vision of being a growing city.
Walsh talked about technology, and how different things are generally ("the future promised in the Jetsons is finally here."), as well as specifically for Syracuse.
Change is hard, but we've risen to the task of embracing new technology before, and I'm certain we can do it again.
Those 'before' changes included the First and Second Industrial Revolutions, where Syracuse as a leader, Walsh said, but we lost ground in the Third Industrial Revolution as we "struggled to capture the progress offered by new technology" and that's had a decades-long impact on us. But it can be changed.
Today, Syracuse has a once in a generation opportunity to leap into the future, to avoid decades of further division, growing income inequality and declining quality of life. 
Enter the Syracuse Surge.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution - the connectivity one - is how this will work, Walsh says.
Through investment and planning, they city can influence how quickly and equitably the changes occur here, and we can prepare our workforce and businesses to capture the prosperity they (real-time data, faster Internet speeds, higher quality connections) offer. 
We've already kicked off the first project - taking ownership of the over 17K streetlights in the city, Walsh said, which will drive savings (as discussed in part 1) but also improve maintenance and provide higher quality lighting. More importantly though, it allows us to move forward as a 'smart city' - in fact, we'll be the "flagship smart city in New York State."

Smart cities leverage technology to move the economy forward and create opportunity for everyone, he said. And it's already started - the region is a leader in Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Cyber Security, and those align with what we're doing in the SCSD, he said, through our Career and Technical Education program.

But that's just the start - the Syracuse Surge is the key, as it will bring significant public and private funding, with over $200M committed so far. And a major investment will be made in The Southside Campus for the New Economy, on top of the $125M already invested in the area southeast of downtown over the past several years.  Highlights of the new campus:
  • best-in-class broadband, as well as the ability to pull - and use - city data in multiple ways;
  • a new regional Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math (STEAM) school to be built in the old Central Tech/Central High building and
  • an expanded workforce development center, part of the SUNY Educational Opportunity Center, next to the STEAM school.
Additional development will also be in the mix:
  • The New York Center for Smart Cities, which will be home to a new Municipal Command Center. The focus here is on improved service delivery and cost savings, but it also includes a revenue-generating component as well.
  • The Center City Innovation Hub, which will expand the 'innovation infrastructure' on Warren Street. He mentioned TCGPlayer, SpinCar and Ephesus as growing companies in the innovation district. The Tech Garden, which has long been at the corner of Harrison and Warren Streets, will be expanded in the future as well.
Blueprint 15, a new organization, will "develop a bold vision for the holistic revitalization of this neighborhood."  The goal for the city and partners such as the Syracuse Housing Authority, the SCSD, the Allyn Foundation, community leaders and residents, is to bring back a sense of optimism for the neighborhood, which is in the old 15th Ward. There's a short documentary on this neighborhood that just aired earlier this week. 

The Southside Campus project builds on and leverages the Southeast Gateway initiative spearheaded by Assemblywoman Pam Hunter; the Surge projects will also help other neighborhoods throughout the city, and build on development that's already happening in multiple areas. 

In closing this section of the SOTC, Walsh emphasized that it's not just about the city.
Over the past few months, we've been working in close association with our partners in the government, business, and the non-profit community. These discussions represent the unprecedented partnership out community needs to prosper. And I have great confidence in its promise and am determined to spend every minute I have as mayor making it a reality. 
This partnership mentality has been a hallmark of Walsh's administration, and I'm happy to see it continuing.

Time will tell if the Syracuse Surge will have the impact we hope it will on Syracuse, but it sounds like even if the formal program doesn't realize its full potential, there's still a great deal of hope for the city. 

No comments:

Post a Comment