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Locate Finger Lakes Business Journal

Economic development summit in Owasco touts “great opportunities”

Reposted from the Auburn Citizen

econ-dev-summit-headshotsOWASCO — A group of about 100 people with a vested interest in the economic development of upstate New York were packed into the Emerson Park Pavilion in Owasco Tuesday.

The Locate Finger Lakes initiative hosted its first Economic Development Summit at the pavilion. Various business leaders and owners from throughout the state attended the event. The initiative, directed by former state Sen. Mike Nozzolio, is meant to spotlight the Finger Lakes region, with a particular aim toward economic development.

After Nozzolio spoke first, a panel discussion on state and regional economic development kicked off. The panelists were Empire State Development Central New York Corporation Regional Director Jim Fayle, Greg Albert, of the Finger Lakes Office of Empire State Development and Southern Tier Deputy Director at Empire State Development Corporation Joseph Roman, all spoke, moderated by Cayuga Economic Development Agency Executive Director Tracy Verrier.

Agricultural businesses received some attention at the event. Fayle said there are opportunities for both traditional agricultural avenues such as dairy — he cited work Empire State Development has done with Cayuga Milk Ingredients in the past — and farming involved with the state’s craft brewing industry.

“Agriculture is a key industry statewide. I think there’s a lot of great opportunities that we can start building on,” Fayle said.

The summit’s keynote speaker was Paul Barrett, publisher for the Finger Lakes Times in Geneva. He has been with the newspaper for 10 years and has worked for papers in states such as Texas. His economic development experience includes stints as the chairman of the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation and efforts with Nozzolio after he moved to New York. He said he wants more people countrywide to know about the Finger Lakes region.

“There is a lot of room for improvement here. There is an abundance of energy, of excitement, of brainpower, capability,” Barrett said.

Other speakers included, Jan Nyrop, the director of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, Caitlin Schickel, program coordinator for the Center for Regional Economic Advancement at Cornell University, Brooke Mayer, project associate for the Center of Excellence in Food and Agriculture for Cornell AgriTech, and Judy McKinney Cherry, the executive director for the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development.

Michelle Walker, work based learning coordinator for Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES, said during the event’s lunch period she came to get a sense of where people who spoke believe the economic future of Cayuga County is going and determine how BOCES can best prepare students.

She said she got the impression that there is a big focus on agriculture and manufacturing. She said she was happy panelists appeared to be thinking about future developments and about how to ensure people are both present and employed in the region.

Andrew Raus, vice president of Northeast Buildings for the architecture, engineering and planning group Bergmann Associates, said having so many people with different experiences under the same roof can be an incredible learning opportunity.

“The real value of an event like this is it’s not every day you get all of these people in one room,” Raus said.

Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or kelly.rocheleau@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.

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