August 11, 2016
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Kicks Off First Regional Sustainable Development & Collaborative Governance Conference in Syracuse

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Video of the Governor Delivering Remarks at the Conference in Syracuse is Available Here



Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today kicked off the first regional sustainability conference in Syracuse, which brings together community development leaders to share successful economic growth strategies. The conference marks the first of a series of statewide events to boost awareness of State resources available to local governments and nonprofit organizations. During today’s conference, the Governor also released a handbook that serves as a one-stop-shop resource for State grants – providing context and web links to the complete list of more than 100 innovative funding programs.

“From the Regional Economic Development Councils to affordable housing and upgrading the State Fairgrounds, our administration has taken a ground-up approach to foster growth and economic development in the Central New York community,” Governor Cuomo said. “Through this initiative, we are taking our efforts another step further by bringing together all levels of government and the private sector to address the region’s current challenges and help achieve its vision for a sustainable economic future. This conference is about working together to build on the progress we made over the last few years and ensure it continues for generations to come.”



The Sustainable Development & Collaborative Governance Conference draws on then-Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Cuomo’s 1999 conference, “Bridging the Divide: Making Regions Work for Everyone: Shaping the Federal Agenda,” which invited experts and academics in regionalism, smart growth and urban revitalization to present their ideas, followed by panel discussions among a diverse group of stakeholders.

Today under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, New York State is prioritizing cross-collaboration between State agencies, local governments and community partners to maximize the collective impact of their efforts. Central New York is a prime example of this bottom-up approach that has shown its success through the Regional Economic Development Councils. To date, New York State has invested approximately $3 billion in Central New York to advance the region’s housing and economic development goals, in addition to $500 million in State funding that supports Central New York Rising. Now, downtown Syracuse is in the midst of a transformation into a thriving urban core and the unemployment rate in Central New York has dropped from 8.4% in June 2011 to 4.5% during the same time this year.

Throughout the day, speakers and panel discussions will share and examine case studies, best practices and examples of how New York State can and has served as a partner in advancing these goals. Two sustainable development experts will deliver keynote addresses:

  • Jonathan Rose, Founder of Jonathan Rose Companies and author of The Well-Tempered City, will give an overview of the global forces effecting cities across the nation and how New York communities can deal with them to thrive in the 21st century.
  • Hilari Varnadore, Executive Director of STAR Communities, will touch on helping communities meet higher levels of sustainability through her work as the executive director of STAR Communities, a national non-profit that works to evaluate, improve and certify sustainable communities.

Attendees include local elected officials, transportation professionals, environmental advocates, planners, economic development practitioners including individuals involved with the regional economic development process, housing advocates and others. 

Today’s conference will highlight the $100 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative competition launched by Governor Cuomo this year. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is providing $10 million to one community in each of the state’s 10 regions to advance their downtown revitalization efforts. Additionally, all downtown revitalization projects will receive extra points through the Governor’s interagency Consolidated Funding Application process. Oswego Mayor William J. Barlow, Jr. presented at the conference on his city’s winning submission.

Additional sustainability and development programs that have been initiated or reformed over the last six years under Governor Cuomo include:

  • Regional Economic Development Councils
  • Cleaner, Greener Regional Sustainability Plans
  • Land Bank Act to convert vacant properties
  • Legislation to combat zombie properties
  • Complete Streets design initiative
  • Upstate Revitalization Initiative
  • Hudson Valley Farmland Preservation and
  • Southern Tier Agricultural Industry
  • Enhancement Programs
  • Clean Energy Communities
  • Brownfield Redevelopment Reform
  • Historic Preservation Tax Credit
  • Climate Smart Communities Grants
  • Community Risk and Resiliency Act

“New York State is at its best when our public and private sectors come together to support economic development, spur job creation, and invest in the success of our future generations, “ said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky. “I commend the Governor for his strategic vision and the implementation of New York’s ten regional councils, which have changed the way we do business here in the Empire State. It is our academic, business and community leaders that truly know what each region needs to succeed and we are proud to work with the regional councils to help build a sustainable economy across the entire state.”

"Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, we have focused on smart growth and sustainable strategies like never before,” said James S. Rubin, Commissioner of New York State Homes and Community Renewal. “All the pieces and partners are coming together to create walkable, accessible, attractive, diverse, and vibrant places around New York State where people want to live and work. With this series of conferences Governor Cuomo is taking the next step, keeping the momentum and conversation going between State agencies and local leaders who are on the ground making change happen."

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said, “Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, we are investing in our greatest assets in order to create and protect jobs, jumpstart the growth in new industries and strengthen our urban communities. From the revitalized Hotel Syracuse, to the new State Fairgrounds and Onondaga Amphitheater, the effects of state investments in the Central New York community is clear and continuing to pay dividends for our community. Today Governor Cuomo is bringing the spirit of collaboration and partnership to Central New York to help us build smarter, stronger, and greener and keep our region moving forward.”

Oswego Mayor William Barlow said, “Today’s sustainability conference highlights the efficiency and innovation of our approach to sustainability in Central New York. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the brightest minds in the public and private sectors are finding solutions to the most pressing issues of our time. Central New York is making great strides in providing a bright, sustainable economic future for all.”

VIDEO of the Governor delivering remarks at the sustainable development conference is available in TV quality (h264, mp4) format here.

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office