Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh, Special to The Post Standard
“Leave Upstate New York” blared a banner headline across the front page of The Syracuse Post Standard commentary section July 7. It was surprising, frustrating and disappointing. Especially in view of all of the positive indicators that have come out about the direction of our region.
Instead, our community psyche was subjected to a tired narrative about Upstate New York based upon an outdated premise. It’s not the time to leave Syracuse; it’s time to stay. It’s time to help build on and experience the rewards of our community’s resurgence.
The signs of progress and emerging opportunity are all around us. First, you can find it in the data.
Jobs: Syracuse had an increase in private jobs of 6,700 from April 2018 to April 2019, higher than the statewide and national average. We added more jobs than our neighboring metros of Rochester and Albany combined. (New York Department of Labor)
Population: Syracuse experienced an increase in population between 2017 and 2018. We were the only major city in the state to see population gain in that window. (U.S. Census Bureau 2018 estimates)
Millennials: Syracuse had the third highest percentage of millennials moving to the area among the top 100 metropolitan areas in the U.S. in 2017. Nearly three in four new Syracuse residents were millennials. (National Association of Realtors)
Big global institutions are noticing what’s changing. In June, Standard & Poors Global Ratings (S&P) upgraded its outlook for the City from negative to stable and maintained the City’s rating at A in its 2019 update. The S&P finding came at the same time that Moody’s Investor Services, another of the top worldwide credit rating agencies, maintained its stable outlook and its A1 rating for Syracuse. Both services issued their reports after comprehensive reviews of the City’s fiscal status.
Earlier this year, JPMorgan Chase named Syracuse as one of five winning cities in its Advancing Cities Challenge, part of a $500 million, five-year initiative to drive inclusive growth and create greater opportunity in the region. The worldwide bank picked Syracuse from among more than 250 other cities in the country to receive a $3 million grant to advance tech sector job growth.
There’s good reason for continued optimism. New York State and the federal government are poised to invest upwards of $2 billion in our City on the Interstate 81 project. It will transform our center city and has the potential to enable transportation infrastructure improvements and economic opportunity in communities surrounding the City. We’re working hard with community partners to ensure this project creates maximum opportunity for local people.
Collaborating with government and private sector partners, we’re advancing quickly on the Syracuse Surge, our strategy for inclusive growth in the New Economy. Late last month, the City, County and School District gained State Legislature approval on the proposed regional STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math) school at the former Central High in Downtown Syracuse.
The City of Syracuse has been named New York’s Flagship Smart City and this month, the City began the conversion of our street light network to money-saving, better quality LED lights. The new fixtures include the technology to implement Smart City programs to improve city services and efficiency.
Taken together, these indicators and actions reinforce the reality that Syracuse is not only on the move but is leading in positioning itself for the New Economy. The progress we are experiencing is a testament to our strong partners at the federal, state, county and local level, as well as great collaboration with the private sector.
Our vision is to make Syracuse a growing city that embraces diversity and creates opportunity for all. Getting there won’t be easy and will take time, but our best days are, clearly, within our reach. Join us.