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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara
"A hub of worldwide research"
ALBANY, Sept. 30 -- It’s worth taking a closer look at the economic recovery blueprints being put forth and carried out by each of the state’s 10 regional economic development councils (regionalcouncils.ny.gov) – from Long Island to the North Country, and from western New York across the Southern Tier and the Finger Lakes right on out to the Capital Region and mid-Hudson Valley.
Several common themes emerge, but not a single one stands out more prominently than this one: the importance of building partnerships between higher education and private industry so that cutting-edge, high-tech, 21st-century research and development can be rapidly turned into practically applied, job-creating, Main Street-style entrepreneurship, industry and manufacturing.
Take the Southern Tier regional council as just one example. The council’s overall vision statement leads off this way: “Building on a strong foundation of existing businesses and higher education institutions, the Southern Tier region uses a collaborative approach to leverage its globally competitive advantages to attract talent and investment for the development of industry clusters.”
Focus on the key ideas brought together in just that one sentence. Existing businesses. Higher education. Strong foundation. Collaborative approach. Globally competitive advantages. Attract talent and investment. Industry clusters.
That’s where we’re heading. That’s the future. It’s happening all over New York State, and it’s happening in important ways right here at home.
I’ll stay focused on the Southern Tier Regional Council for the moment. It’s ongoing initiatives to carry out a comprehensive strategy and vision for this area’s economic future is being constructed, in fundamental ways, upon a regional approach, anchored by a Corning-Ithaca-Binghamton triangle that offers all of our communities the chance to benefit from a university-private sector foundation like we’ve never seen before.
The Southern Tier council recently put forth for the state’s consideration what it calls the “Southern Tier Regional Incubator Plan.” It’s a two-fold strategy that: 1.) zeroes in on the over $1.5 billion in research dollars already collectively being invested by many of the triangle’s leading institutions, including Cornell University, Corning Incorporated, the Ceramics Corridor Innovation Center in Painted Post and Binghamton University, and 2.) seeks to fashion and fit this existing commitment to research and utilize the existing physical infrastructure already in place (i.e., a range of modern high-tech buildings, equipment and specially trained workers) to help this entire region remake itself, become a “Southern Tier Innovation Hot Spot” and undergo the revitalization so many imagine.
We’re talking about revitalization through the commercialization of incubator facilities, by encouraging new entrepreneurs and start-up high-tech companies, by attracting new capital investment, energizing workforce development, and leveraging existing state programs and services to keep advancing our future -- and our fortunes.
The potential is enormous. It’s all about creating good jobs and long-term job security for workers and their families. It’s about creating the economic opportunities that will keep the incredible young talent already living and learning at our colleges and universities living and working and raising families in our communities throughout the next generation.
And it’s about continuing to leverage ongoing state and federal investments that can lead us in so many exciting, significant and diverse directions. Just last week, for example, it was announced that nearly $1 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – through the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004 – is going to support 11 research projects underway at Cornell University, whose College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) is the second-largest undergraduate college and the third-largest college of its kind in America. It’s been ranked time after time as the best college of agriculture and related sciences in the country. It’s one of the world’s leading institutions of agricultural research and development.
It’s this type of nuts-and-bolts research and development that, while it may never show up in the headlines, represents the underpinning of so much of what’s been responsible for keeping New York an agricultural leader for so long. It’s a critical piece of the foundation that will help us maintain, secure and strengthen this position into a future that’s going to be fraught with worldwide economic, regulatory and environmental challenges.
Again, all of the above may never be areas of research and development known to most of us or that will ever show up in bright lights – but trust me that it’s research and development with practical applications to increase, piece by piece by piece, the diversity, profitability and long-term economic strength of the Southern Tier, the Finger Lakes and all of New York State.
In other words, it’s important work and we’re fortunate to have it taking place at Cornell University, at Corning Inc., at the Ceramics Corridor Innovation Center and at so many other regional institutions. It has the potential to carry us a long way -- in even more important and successful ways than most of us realize or truly appreciate.
Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison
Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field
Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687
Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967
Doris L. Karius, 546-5544
Barbara Halpin, 594-3683
Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385
Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517
Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482
Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335
County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133
Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222
Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222
County Treasurer: Gary Whyman, 535-8181
District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383
State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County
Sen. Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate
Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senate
State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Assemblyman Phil Palmesano--
Steuben, Schuyler, Yates
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869