During Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh’s March community briefing, held on March 15, he shared COVID-19 updates, workforce training opportunities, major pandemic relief wins as a result of Common Council’s authorizations earlier in the week, investments in our neighborhoods, an upgrade to our Fitch rating and support for the Ukrainian refugee population.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh held his monthly briefing on Tuesday, March 15. You can watch the full briefing here.

Mayor Walsh provides community updates during March monthly briefing

COVID-19 Updates
Mayor Walsh during each monthly briefing has continued to update the community on COVID hospitalizations and the City vaccination rate. During his Tuesday briefing, Mayor Walsh stressed the importance of continuing to get vaccinated and boosted, reminding Syracuse residents that this has proven the best protection for individuals and the whole of our community. Additionally, he shared that the City still has thousands of at-home test kits available as part of a distribution that began earlier in the month. This additional precautionary step is important to reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 as the weather warms and community events increase. You can pick up test kits weekdays at City Parks:

  • Schiller Park Bova Community Center
  • Magnarelli Community Center at McChesney Park
  • Seals Community Center at Kirk Park Wilson Community Center
  • Westmoreland Community Center
  • Bob Cecile Community Center.

Kits are also available at Syracuse Northeast Community Center, Southwest Community Center, Westcott Community Center, Dunbar Center, Huntington Family Center, Northside Learning Center and La Liga (Spanish Action League). These sites will distribute test kits to participants during programming, as well as take walk-ups from any City resident.

American Rescue Plan Act’s One Year Anniversary
The month of March marks the one year anniversary of the approval of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). ARPA has been essential to pandemic relief, and as we enter the second year of pandemic recovery, we have activated more than $74 million of the $123 million allocated to Syracuse. Mayor Walsh reiterated our strategy, focusing ARPA investments in four areas: supporting children, families and neighborhoods; transforming infrastructure and public spaces; investing in jobs and economic recovery; and enhancing government resilience and response. Just this week, the Common Council authorized another $2.1 million is spending to help city residents:

  • $1.25 million for a new Arts and Culture Recovery Fund
  • $411,000 for the Financial Empowerment Center
  • $350,000 for On Point for College
  • And $71,000 for a violence intervention assessment

A reminder, you can track all of our pandemic relieve progress from out ARPA Dashboard available from the home page of syrgov.net.

COMPSTAT Crime Report
Mayor Walsh provided updates on crime in Syracuse, which included recent events at Destiny USA. He reminds residents that this data is analyzed on a monthly basis, and is publicly available on SyracusePolice.org. As of Tuesday’s briefing, violent crime through the first nine weeks of the year is down -15% compared to the same time period last year and down 3% compared to the five year average.  Property crime – which is down 6% against the five year average – is up 17% compared to last year. Overall part one crime is up 9% but down 5% compared to the five year average. Mayor Walsh shared feelings of relief that violent crime is down, but noted that the increase in property crime is still concerning and promised residents that we will continue working every day to reduce all categories of crime.

Job Training Opportunities with Syracuse Build and Syracuse Surge
Mayor Walsh covered opportunities in the city and highlighted training programs with Syracuse Build and Syracuse Surge workforce trainings, continuing in our work to achieve Syracuse’s vision of being a growing city that embraces diversity and creates opportunity for all. Mayor Walsh shared that New York State continues to indicate that work on the Interstate 81 Viaduct project is scheduled to begin later this year. Our Syracuse Build program is working actively with partners across the community to prepare Syracuse residents for careers in construction and related fields.

Syracuse Build “Work Smart” Construction Training and NYS DOT are preparing workers for I-81 construction trades like flagging, asphalt and concrete work, and a seven-weeks training program started yesterday. The Syracuse Build “Build Ready” program and SUNY EOC are preparing workers for building maintenance and contractor work such as working towards careers as a laborer or contractor with local companies. There is one class underway now, and applications are being accepted currently for classes that begin May 2, 2022. Additionally, Mayor Walsh highlighted that Syracuse Build is partnering with the City for a new Sidewalk Construction and Repairs Training program that will begin this spring. These programs all include paid stipends, which is key to making it possible for people to access career training. 

Information on Syracuse Build opportunities is available from the home page of CNY Works website at cnyworks.com.

Mayor Walsh shared that Syracuse Build isn’t the only program surging forward. Syracuse Surge workforce programs are in full gear. Our Syracuse Surge partners at Centerstate CEO are working with SUNY EOC, OCC, OCM BOCES and private sector employers to offer three training programs. These programs demonstrate how we are creating a pipeline for a new industry of jobs in the technology field.

First, Digital Customer Service training program just finished with excellent results.  More than 50% of participants have job offers and six have already been hired.  He shared that we also have programs for Advanced Manufacturing for fields like 5G wireless and Electrical Mechanical Technicians for people who maintain large industrial equipment. Like our Syracuse Build programs, these are paid training with high employer engagement to create hiring pipelines.

More information is available at CenterState CEO’s website, centerstateceo.com.

Expanding the Vibrancy of Downtown, South and West
Mayor Walsh reminded the community that late last year we announced Syracuse received its first Downtown Revitalization Award. Today, the initiative moves forward as the call for proposals is open now until April 15, 2022. The initiative will focus on the Southwest Gateway District, in an effort to expand our vibrant downtown area to the South and West. With DRI funding and support from the local community, the Southwest Gateway District is poised to become a growing downtown community more seamlessly connected with Downtown and Armory Square. Projects selected for DRI funding are intended to promote local business, spur job creation, create affordable housing and enhance public transit, infrastructure and green spaces.

The DRI Local Planning Committee will hold a meeting to discuss questions about potential submissions at Noon on Tuesday, March 22, via Zoom. More details about this informational meeting to learn more about the open call for projects will be available at SyracuseDRI.com.

Project submissions should be emailed to business@syrgov.net by 5:00pm on April 15, 2022.

Syracuse gets an A+
Mayor Walsh, as part of his vision as a growing city, has stressed the importance of fiscal sustainability. On Tuesday, he shared the news of another indicator we are on the right track. Fitch Ratings, one of the three top credit ratings agencies, has upgraded the city’s debt rating from A to A+. Their outlook continues to be “stable.” Mayor Walsh explained that this is the result of excellent financial management by his team at City Hall in coordination with the Common Council. Fitch’s words show progress and remind us continued good management is essential. As important as being a sign of progress, the A+ bond rating provides real benefits to tax payers – it will save us hundreds of thousands of dollars in the future on financing costs.

We expect updated ratings later this year from the other big credit rating institutions, Standard & Poors and Moody’s.

Updates from the City’s Department of Public Works
Chief Operating Officer Corey Driscoll Dunham was also in attendance at Tuesday’s briefing to share updates on trash and recycling in the City. She explained that aging equipment and a shortage of mechanics have been impacting trash and recycling pickups. To combat this, a two-shift pilot program began last week. This program extends pick-up day for equipment, without overburdening Sani crews. Since beginning this program, no delays have occurred. There are no shifts in set-out days for residents – please stick to your regular schedule.

In Solidarity with Ukraine: Syracuse Bids You Welcome
Before closing his briefing and opening for questions, Mayor Walsh paused to acknowledge the horrific situation in Ukraine. Earlier this month, County Executive McMahon and Mayor Walsh made clear that Syracuse and Onondaga County will do all we can to accept Ukrainians escaping the Russian invasion. City government is staying in close contact with resettlement partners, Catholic Charities and Interfaith Works, who are working through their government and non-profit channels. While there are no updates on if, or when, we can expect arrivals, our offer stands – and we are hopeful our community can be part of the solution.

You can watch the full briefing here.

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