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Governor Andrew Cuomo announced early in his term that he'd be creating a set of "regional economic councils" to build plans for funding economic development across New York, from the ground up.In the summer of 2011 he finally announced some of the details of the program, to be led by Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy. The ten councils each have dozens of members, and are charged with gathering input from the public and business leaders, and creating a plan by November 14. Those plans will be pitted against each other for a pot of $1 billion in grants, incentives, and tax relief from various state agencies. The winners will get more funding, the losers will get less.But other details - like whether funding will be available past the initial term, and who will serve on the board that decides who wins and who loses - have not been released.The Innovation Trail is looking for your feedback about what your regional economic priorities are, and what you want your community to look like once the councils have completed their task.

Public to regional council: give us jobs

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A word cloud created from the text of the central New York regional economic council's vision statement.

When Governor Andrew Cuomo pulled together the central New York regional council on the economy, he tapped business leaders and university presidents, to get their take on how to resuscitate the regional economy.

But Tuesday night it was the public's turn to weigh in, at a brainstorming session held at LeMoyne College in Syracuse. The attendees at the forum ran the gamut.

Diane, a retiree from Dewitt , said she hoped that the council would address "consolidation and reducing the cost of taxes - that's what drives kids and businesses out of our area."

One of those kids, teenager Zack Kukulsky, told the council he wanted them to create "jobs that I could support a family on, live, go out and buy cars."

"We don't really lack anything"

As the participants split into smaller groups, jobs and work opportunities emerged as a central theme. But was clear the group knew that the challenges are big, and will require a lot of resources to fix.

Witness the remarks of David, who cautioned that the region should retool from an economy based on large manufacturers, to one with more small businesses, saying "don't lose those skills of those workers."

Howard Gordon, a SUNY Oswego employee, argued that the key to economic success is to focus on the downtown core.  

"You rebuild the city, you bring in new jobs. Tourism is great. But you still have people left out. And they're not trained for those jobs. They don't have the access and the equity."

And this from Justin: "We got smart people. We got education. We don't really lack anything. Except the will to go do it."

All of those comments were collected at the end of the evening and submitted to the council. Theoretically they'll inform the plan that the council is tasked with coming up with by November. 

Participants also had a chance to weigh in on the council's vision statement.

Chris Carrick, who directs the Central New York Regional Planning Board's Energy Program, attended the event as a participant, and was less than enthusiastic about the vision statement.

"The vision statement right now is very long. It is very broad. And a lot of folks in the room thought it needed to be more specific; to concentrate on just the few things we can do with this five year plan ... and talk about what makes us unique as a region."

08222011REDC Vision Statement

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