2022 Economic Champions Celebration - Remarks by CenterState CEO President, Rob Simpson

Posted on November 9, 2022

Rob Website

Good afternoon.

Dr. Simmons, thank you for joining us today and celebrating the historic investment that Micron is making not only in our economy, but in our people and our community. From our very first dinner with the New York team more than a year ago, it was made clear at what drives Micron’s business, what your corporate values are and how they so perfectly align with ours. The commitments being made by Micron through the Community Investment Framework will ensure that our entire community has access to these opportunities.

In Micron, we have found a partner who wants to be a part of advancing our existing regional strategy, one who shares our values – a belief in U.S. manufacturing and innovation, a commitment to climate, equity and community. It has been rewarding to welcome you all to Central New York and we are all excited to begin this new chapter for our region, together.

To the team at CenterState CEO, thank you. You have worked tirelessly to support this project at every stage. Our business attraction team supported site visits and hosted company representatives multiple times over the past 15 months. We worked alongside federal leaders to ensure the CHIPS and Science Act was passed and provided New York State’s leadership with key insights as it developed and passed new Green Chips legislation. And the company has looked to our expertise in developing workforce programs and strategies that are crucial to ensuring the project’s investments reach across our community equitably. It is that work that will now be scaled to meet the commitments Micron has made through the nation-leading Community Investment Framework. There is no greater reward or validation of our mission. I am proud to call you all colleagues and thank you for your passion in advancing this work.

To our County Executive, Ryan McMahon, thank you for your leadership and being a passionate advocate for what this region can achieve, your vision for the White Pine site made this moment possible and you continue to drive forward projects that will enable its success.

To each and every one of you – our members, partners, community leaders and elected officials – thank you for every job added and investment made. Through your collective efforts we are celebrating this year with the knowledge that we did what everyone said was impossible - we have secured the largest economic development project in our state’s history and one of the largest ever in the nation’s history.

Last spring, when we were in the middle of our negotiations with Micron, there were several national news articles that speculated where Micron would invest. Remember they had publicly announced their intent to create a megafab site and invest billions but had not identified where they were looking. And so, across the country newspapers and pundits talked about Texas and Arizona, Georgia and Virginia. Do you know who wasn’t on those lists? Syracuse. Quite frankly no one saw us coming. They didn’t know what you all do - that this is a community worth investing in, worth betting on. They didn’t understand the value that you do - that growing your company and being a part of a larger community vision to create change is what make Central New York special. Here elected, community and business leaders work together to turn bold visions into reality. While progress hasn’t always happened rapidly it has happened thanks to each and every one of you.

Progress, big and small is what we have always celebrated through this event and this year we proudly recognize a record 421 businesses and organizations for creating more than 5,000 new jobs, investing more than $1 billion in capital expenditures, adding more than 5.8 million square-feet of new space, opening 121 new businesses and locations, marking 76 milestones and anniversaries, receiving 102 awards and achievements and new to these annual celebrations, we honor more than 52 companies for their efforts to advance diversity, equity and inclusion.

These investments are a down payment on our community’s future progress and there are so many of you who have returned year after year to continue to drive this community forward and today we celebrate you too.

Companies like Hueber-Breuer Construction Co., who celebrates its 150 anniversary this year. The company has made a commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, is headquartered on Syracuse's southside, and has long contributed to our community's rebirth through projects like the Lakeview Amphitheater, The Landmark Theatre stage expansion, Creekwalk Commons and Icon Tower.

The United Way of Central New York also celebrates a significant milestone anniversary this year: 100 years of making this community better for all. An incredible partner to us and our workforce initiatives. This community wouldn’t be the same without your dedication and support.

Oneida Nation Enterprises recently announced its Turning Stone Resort Casino will undergo the largest expansion project since its opening. This is in addition to the 300 jobs it created and $50 million invested this year. As part of its growth strategy, it recognized the need to ensure its employees had safe and affordable housing and so led by example and created The Villages at Stoney Creek for its workforce.

TCGplayer, which last week announced its acquisition by eBay has been finalized, is an anchor to downtown Syracuse’s innovation corridor with its headquarters on Warren Street. Chedy Hampson has also led workforce innovation by creating ladders for professional advancement for his team.

JMA Wireless, a national leader in 5G technologies and a partner in our Micron attraction efforts, opened its new manufacturing facility on Syracuse’s southside demonstrating its commitment to intentional growth and community reinvestment.

That commitment is shared by so many of you, including Pathfinder Bank, and its newest branch that will support people as they work to create generational wealth, while also contributing to larger efforts to revitalize the West Onondaga Street corridor and Syracuse’s Southside neighborhood.

Amazon, the second largest economic development project in our community’s history behind Micron, announced they would create a highly advanced distribution facility in Central New York during the pandemic. In addition to officially opening that facility this year, they are meeting their commitment to hire from communities that have long been underserved and ensure their employees have new opportunities for professional growth through a partnership with Onondaga Community College.

When we were pitching our community and its growth potential to Micron, we highlighted the growth and investments made by some of our legacy companies like Lockheed and Saab who have secured significant contracts that have enabled them to reinvest and commit to future growth in central New York.

And across our community there are small, locally owned companies that contribute to our community’s vibrancy and sense of place. Today, we celebrate their impact.

Thank to these companies and so many others we can say definitively that today marks a new chapter in our region’s history, a chapter that starts with a simple but undeniable statement: Central New York is back. But make no mistake, this transformation didn’t happen overnight.

For the past 10 years we have recognized the achievements of hundreds of companies and organizations. Whether big or small, these efforts have been critical to our community’s self-led revitalization. Since 2012, and including this year, these celebrations have recognized a combined creation of approximately 31,000 jobs, $27 million square-feet of expansions and $8.8 billion in capital investments.

Micron and its investment of $100 billion and creation of 9,000 jobs is the return on each of your investments. What excites me most about this new future for our community is the knowledge that for the first time in a generation, you all can move forward with new investments and hiring with a heightened level of certainty, knowing a greater level of wealth is coming to Central New York. 

In fact, Empire State Development shared an economic impact study by REMI, Inc. that projects that Micron will generate growth for New York State, including: 

  • $9.6 billion annually in real GDP impact from 2025-2055.
  • $16.7 billion annually in real output impact from 2025-2055.
  • $17.2 billion in total New York State government revenue (spanning 2025-2055)
  • 50,000+ new permanent jobs in New York State by 2055, 70% in Central New York.

To put this into perspective, there are 390,000 people employed in the five-county region so just the 9,000 new jobs at Micron represent a 2.7% increase in employment.

Micron’s investment will create a ripple effect through our entire regional economy. The company will need all levels of service providers. Its employees will need mortgage brokers, banks, real estate agents and medical services. Community giving will also look very different and our nonprofits, which have long been the heart of this community, will have new resources with which to do their important work.

When we work together, we win. I have said that and will keep saying it because no matter the challenge before us we prove it time and again.

Micron has told us that this teamwork is a large reason why they have chosen our region – making the biggest investment in their corporate history and literally betting the future of their company, on Central New York and the team of people that have made this place what it is, and who call this place home. That’s all of you.

The work before us will require us to recommit to the same level of teamwork that has become our regional hallmark. As we grow, we need to do so in a way that doesn’t impact the very community and natural assets that make Central New York the incredible place it is.

We also must dig into the hard work of ensuring our local talent is ready for these opportunities reaching out to communities that have often been left out of these conversations. While economic growth is no guarantee of greater shared prosperity, it is a necessary precondition to it. We must focus our efforts to ensure this new rising tide lifts all boats. We must scale the programs and create connections to extend a hand up, and an open door, to those who have been historically denied opportunity, equity and a chance at personal prosperity.

Make no mistake, this work will be hard. But it is not impossible because of you, and we welcome Micron as our newest partner in these efforts. They are making unprecedented commitments to our community that reflect their values and solidify their claim as a world-leader in corporate responsibility.

To meet this future head on we will need to change our mindset. We must challenge ourselves and shed what we have previously assumed is possible for our community. We must reorient ourselves to a growth mentality. That means we must set a new, higher standard for planning and development. It also means changing what we tell our children about the opportunities that exist here.

By a show of hands how many of you grew up in this region? Now keep your hand up if you were told that you had to leave to find professional success and have a high quality of life? Me too. But our children and all the students that are preparing to graduate from your high school have a different future before them. If they choose to leave to explore this great big world, then that is great but if they choose not to leave or to come home, they can do so knowing that they have every opportunity that students in other communities have and maybe even more. So, let’s tell them that! We are the last of the brain drain generation, we did that, let’s take pride in those efforts.

As we leave here today, let’s celebrate the full arch of our community’s story - our proud industrial past and the prosperous, technological future that awaits.

Congratulations and thank you to each of you for the teamwork you have displayed, and for believing that a day like today was, in fact, possible.

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