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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

"Bringing regional high-tech to a boil"

ALBANY, Dec. 15 -- I’ll call it one great big pot of exciting economic news.

That’s just one way to think about the latest round of funding through the state’s Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) initiative, announced last week. But I think it serves to make the overriding point of just how many key local ingredients are in the process of being mixed together, stirred up and served in a way that this region’s never seen before.

New York’s economic development councils were created in 2011 and established regionally based coalitions of business, community, education and government leaders to develop strategic economic blueprints and compete for state investments to help carry them out -- in other words, to spark a brand new way of achieving grassroots economic and community development, and job creation.

There are 10 councils in all, including the Southern Tier REDC (which covers Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben and Tompkins counties in my 58th Senate District) and the Finger Lakes REDC (which includes Yates County in my district). You can read more about the work of each council, including last week’s project awards, online at

And it’s worthwhile reading. Take a look at the latest awards and you’ll find that there’s a whole lot going on: Rural development. Agriculture- and tourism-related initiatives. Health care advances, including telemedicine. Infrastructure improvements. Broadband expansion. Energy. Education. Housing. You name it. In each region, including the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes, there’s a wide ranging list of regional initiatives that, together, offer an exciting menu of community and economic development.

Of course that makes it sound far too easy. The truth is it’s the product of a lot of behind-the-scenes, hard, detailed, thoughtful work and planning over the past several years. In our case, the work’s been carried out by regional leaders like Corning Enterprises President and CEO Tom Tranter, who co-chairs the Southern Tier REDC. They’ve dedicated their energy, expertise and vision -- to say nothing of their abiding desire to see our communities succeed. They’ve continually assessed regional strengths and weaknesses, identified specific priorities and put in motion short- and long-term strategies to keep us moving toward a more secure economic future.

Very simply, these regional public-private partnerships are providing the economic leadership we need in this tough economy to keep strengthening existing economic foundations and build new ones so that our employers and our workers can compete with anyone, anywhere for the jobs of the future and across-the-board economic growth.

With that in mind, I’ll highlight just one initiative from the Southern Tier REDC which, by the way, was recognized as a “Top Performer” this year. The emerging cornerstone of the council’s strategy, in my view, is the establishment of the “Southern Tier Innovation Hot Spot.” It’s joining, like never before, existing research and development infrastructure and investment at Cornell University, Binghamton University and the Ceramics Corridor Innovation Center in Painted Post to create a regional, high-tech business start-up incubator. The latest REDC funding cycle also supports a major expansion of the Southern Tier Network, one of New York State’s leading broadband expansion endeavors, as well as the establishment of a Cornell University-affiliated business incubator in downtown Ithaca.

Back in September in this column, I wrote of the proposed Southern Tier Innovation Hot Spot. I said: “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.”

Now it’s underway and it has the potential to carry us a long way in securing a prominent place in the statewide, national and worldwide competition for high-tech jobs and economic opportunities. 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, including a Rochester-based Finger Lakes Innovation Hot Spot that’s also being created.

The Southern Tier and Finger Lakes Innovation Hot Spots hold out the promise of a broadly based Finger Lakes-Southern Tier corridor of high-tech business development, job creation, innovation, and cutting-edge research and development.

It’s all about creating good jobs and long-term economic security for communities, workers and 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.

It’s about continuing to leverage ongoing state and federal investments that can lead us in so many exciting, significant and diverse directions.

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara

Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison

Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

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
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano-- Steuben, Schuyler, Yates
Room 723, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-5791


© The Odessa File 2011
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869