Central New York and Mohawk Valley Partners Submit Multi-million Dollar Application to Compete in Build Back Better Regional Challenge

Posted on March 23, 2022

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Collaborative Proposal from Coalition of 57 Partners Highlights Expertise Needed to Lead National Reshoring Efforts

Application builds on more than a decade of regional collaboration to develop high-growth tech sectors

Syracuse, NY – CenterState CEO and a coalition of 57 public, private, nonprofit, academic and for-profit entities across Central New York and the Mohawk Valley joined together to submit a phase two application for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC), a central component of the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s American Rescue Plan. These coalition partners proposed nine distinct and interconnected projects that would leverage more than $143 million against a federal investment of $92 million to advance opportunities in the region’s emerging “smart systems” cluster, while also integrating large-scale workforce development programs to ensure that regional growth is inclusive and equitable.

These projects include:

  1. White Pine Commerce Park - Invest $25 million in infrastructure improvements at this 1,300-acre site, complementing existing assets to accommodate the specific site needs of a large-scale semiconductor manufacturer or a group of smaller advanced manufacturing companies and supply companies, helping build the infrastructure needs necessary to grow the cluster.
  1. Marcy Nanocenter Supply Chain Flex Space – Invest $7.75 million tobuild a flex-space facility for lease to supply chain firms looking to co-locate with Wolfspeed and Danfoss Silicon Power, who have already invested $1.5 billion and plan to bring 900 jobs. This facility will strengthen the I-90 corridor between semiconductor investments in the Capital Region and Central New York.
  1. Oswego County Supply Chain Site Readiness –Invest $7.5 million to build 10 shovel ready sites supporting a minimum of 700,000 square feet of new industrial facilities for employers that would create up to 1,200 new jobs. The site is strategically located within 10 miles of White Pine Commerce Park and with jobs accessible to disconnected rural populations.
  1. Advanced Manufacturing Training Consortium – Invest $9.5 million to create a consortium of education/training providers and industry employers that will engage and train 3,500 residents, focused on women and people of color. Anticipated placement rate is 80% into seven smart systems demand occupations to help increase and diversify the cluster’s workforce. The new collaborative workforce training model would engage Onondaga, Cayuga, and Mohawk Valley Community Colleges; Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES; SUNY Syracuse Educational Opportunity Center; SUNY Morrisville and others.
  1. Regional STEAM School. Focus: Education/Talent – Invest $10 million torenovate a historic school building located in a historically disinvested Syracuse neighborhood within the Syracuse City School District (enrollment 20,000) into a regional “STEAM” high school.
  1. Center City Innovation Hub – Invest $8.3 million to support construction of two floors and renovations to CenterState CEO’s Tech Garden business incubator building, creating a new “Center City Innovation Hub.” The project would also include the launch of the NYS Center for Smart Cities and a new XBE focused accelerator program. The interior space and equipment original to its EDA-funded opening in 2004 will be updated.
  1. UAS Health Care Commercialization – Invest $12 million in testing the safe and reliable commercial use of drones in partnership with SUNY Upstate Medical University Hospital using NUAIR’s FAA Certificate of Authorization to fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS).
  1. Smart Systems Quantum Runways –Invest $10 million to accelerate quantum science and technologies, critical for advancing smart systems components, technologies, and product development.
  1. CenterState NY Smart Systems Cluster Governance – Invest $2 million to build the coalition’s capacity to design, implement, and iterate critical cluster enabler strategies around governance; diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI); equitable benefits and cluster growth sustainability.


It is anticipated these projects will: 

  • Create upward of 23,060 new jobs;
  • Leverage over $11.3 billion in private investment;
  • Increase the region’s gross domestic product by 3.5%;
  • Create 588 new startups in 12 years;
  • Invest $80 million in startups over the next four years;
  • Train 3,500 through the workforce consortium;
  • Graduate 250 per year from the STEAM School; and
  • Invest $8 million in four years in XBE startups.

Through this competitive application, coalition partners have highlighted the region’s unique strengths and assets that will enable it to help America innovate, re-shore, and develop critical advanced manufacturing and supply chain networks. The development of shovel-ready real estate and infrastructure will support and attract a wide range of advanced manufacturing companies and accompanying supply chain firms. Based on the high potential of existing assets to meet specific industry needs, particular emphasis is placed on the semiconductor computer chip sector, which aligns with federal efforts to re-shore advanced manufacturing supply chains critical to ensuring national security and resilience.

Coalition partners have been engaged in regional efforts for the past decade or more to develop and advance strategies that leverage strengths in sensing technologies to build a globally leading uncrewed aircraft systems industry. Through this proposal, partners are well positioned to continue to advance smart systems projects that highlight the region’s successful efforts to drive results through collaboration and targeted strategies.

In today's digitally connected world, the ability to manage, sense, analyze, and interpret data and information in real time has become essential for making the human and autonomous decisions necessary for commerce to thrive. The technical and analytic capabilities that make this possible serve as the backbone of CenterState NY’s growing information technology Smart Systems cluster. These core industrial capabilities are being deployed in the region to solve real-world problems in market verticals that are critical to national economic competitiveness, including semiconductor chip manufacturing and unmanned systems technology (UST), radar and sensing, internet of things (IoT), and 5G telecommunications. Cluster growth interventions are intentionally designed to drive equitable access to opportunity for allthe region’s residents.

Additionally, the region’s proposal includes workforce development programs to ensure that regional growth is inclusive and equitable. The projects and strategies focus on becoming a global tech hub and create the potential to attract new jobs and the ability to train workers to enter in-demand fields. Additionally, the majority of the coalition’s 57 partners took the Central New York Business Equity Pledge and will participate in ongoing DEI work over the next four years. With the help of CenterState CEO’s Racial Equity and Social Impact team, the coalition will develop an XBE (women, minority and veteran-owned company) scorecard to be used as a roadmap for those that engage in this DEI work, to assist in measuring their individual impact on larger regional equity goals. Furthermore, the Smart Systems cluster will drive the region’s full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic while building inclusive regional prosperity and resilience to future economic shocks. A diverse leadership table will facilitate decision-making and investments that are designed intentionally and inclusively to ensure economic benefits flow to all residents.

This phase two application follows the region’s successful phase one application that was announced in October 2021. The region’s proposal was selected as one of 60 finalists from more than 500 nationwide applications.

“Central New York and the Mohawk Valley have all the right ingredients to be a major national tech hub. That is why I brought Deputy Secretary Graves to the region to see just how uniquely suited it is to drive not only the Upstate economy into the future, but the entire nation’s competitiveness in critical technologies like semiconductor chips and quantum computing,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer. “From 5G to semiconductors to quantum computing to UAS, the region has it all; and with state-of-the-art research facilities, a job training pipeline and shovel ready sites like White Pine and Marcy Nanocenter, it is primed to be a global tech hub with further federal investment from the Build Back Better Regional Challenge.”

“This phase two application for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) reflects New York State’s commitment to infrastructure investment and success at building public and private partnerships to leverage investment in regional industry strengths," said Hope Knight, acting commissioner and president & CEO- designate at Empire State Development. "The Mohawk Valley and Central New York Region’s “smart systems” high-tech cluster is a microcosm of that success, including these project proposals with the potential to create thousands of new jobs and further grow the region as a hub for innovation, from UAS to semiconductor manufacturing.”

“This Build Back Better application is a prime example of regional cooperation," said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. "The opportunity to enhance our investments in semiconductor and UAS technologies is critical to the future growth of Oneida County, the Mohawk Valley and Central New York. I thank all involved for their hard work in laying out a winning a strategy that I am certain will be well received in Washington.”

“This effort, bringing together our combined assets and resources to grow the Smart Systems industry sector in our region and likely, throughout the state, is perhaps the most transformative opportunity for New York State in more than a century,” said James Weatherup, chairman of the Oswego County Legislature. “We are excited about the opportunity to be working with this extraordinary team of regional partners as we present this initiative to the U.S. Department of Commerce for consideration.”

“The City of Syracuse's partnership with CenterState CEO and other public, private and community organizations on the Build Back Better Regional Challenge is advancing our city's investments in growing “smart systems.” “These partnerships are already proving transformative to our local economy through our Syracuse Surge strategy and they present enormous potential for inclusive economic growth for both the city and New York State," said Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh. "We want to double down on investments in education, workforce training, research and digital infrastructure. It will create equitable access to higher-wage careers in tech for decades to come.  Thank you to the U.S. Department of Commerce for their consideration of our application.”

“The Build Back Better initiative will strengthen the Mohawk Valley and Central New York regions’ common interests in the semiconductor industry as well as Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS),” said Rome Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo. “The Griffiss Business and Technology Park, and specifically Rome Lab and Innovare, are leading us into the future of quantum computing, UAS, artificial intelligence research and machine learning. Very soon the Mohawk Valley Fab will begin operations at their chip fab site on the SUNY POLY campus. Our Build Back Better proposals will support the larger ecosystem through workforce housing development, state of the art research facilities and growing our high-tech footprint within a 50-mile corridor to our R&D partners in the Syracuse area.”

“The Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency believes the White Pine Mega Campus is uniquely positioned for success in attracting a semiconductor manufacturer to Central New York,” said Robert M. Petrovich, executive director, Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency. “Such a project will help alleviate the current chip shortage and transform our community by creating thousands of high paying tech jobs. This grant will provide a tremendous boost to reduce our time to market for such an opportunity.”

“The County of Oswego IDA welcomed the opportunity to submit a grant application for the US Economic Development Administration Build Back Better Regional Challenge in collaboration with our regional economic development and workforce development partners,” said L. Michael Treadwell, CEO of the County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency. “We strongly believe that the targeted investments in these proposals will be a catalyst for the growth of the Smart Systems Cluster, attracting new jobs and private investment to Central New York and Oswego County for generations to come.”

“The Syracuse City School District is proud to be a Coalition Member of the Build Back Better program and we look forward to the continued partnership as we get ready to open the first Regional STEAM High School in Central New York,” said Jaime Alicea, superintendent of the Syracuse City School District.   “We are bringing together the top companies and arts organizations in the respective fields of STEAM and hope to become an employability incubator by creating pathways for students to enter the workforce right out of high school.”  

“The Economic Development Administration is to be commended for spearheading this unique opportunity to direct significant federal resources to regions across the nation to assist in their efforts to fully implement a comprehensive economic development strategy and investment plan that will provide the foundation for the growth of more robust economy at the local level," said David Bottar, executive director of the CNY Regional Planning and Development Board. "As a region, CenterState, NY has a significant amount of experience in working with our federal partners and looks forward to building on our relationship with EDA to ensure the implementation of a comprehensive Build Back Better Regional Challenge program across our eight- county region that will lead to significant investments from the private sector and the creation of thousands of new jobs for all segments of our community.”

“The Build Back Better program creates opportunity to scale support of existing industries and those looking to find growth within the region, while aligning strategies with a vision of equitable progress,” said Rob Simpson, president, CenterState CEO. “I am immensely proud of how our region has come together to make us competitive for this large-scale award, which validates that the region is poised for smart systems industry growth. Through partnerships, sound strategies and regional expertise — and now, with the potential of game-changing Build Back Better investments — the CenterState New York region stands ready to accelerate its already strong growth trajectory, while connecting those opportunities to the resources and talent needed to succeed.”

“Reshoring is critical to national security and to address global supply issues related to IoT and semi-conductor industries. Over the past decade we have been executing strategies that now put us in a position to advance our regional leadership position and support high-growth industries that bring manufacturing, research and development back to the United States,” said Steven J. DiMeo, president, Mohawk Valley EDGE.  “This application reinforces is that Central New York and Mohawk Valley has the expertise to lead these efforts.”

“The Griffiss Institute is pleased to support this coalition of partners in the pursuit of our core mission to develop the next generation of talent and technologies that will strengthen U.S. national security and create economic opportunity for our region, state and nation," Heather Hage, president & CEO of the Griffiss Institute. "Rome is the heartbeat of Upstate New York’s defense tech ecosystem, and our capabilities at Innovare Advancement Center are well-positioned to support the development of smart systems talent and technologies to enable long-term economic growth.”

“Funding through the BBBRC would accelerate the commercial application of drones in the healthcare industry, providing cost-effective, contactless delivery solutions while improving healthcare equity for underserved populations and others in need.  Additionally, these efforts will minimize negative impacts on service delivery and manpower shortages due to future crippling events such as pandemics and supply chain disruptions,” said Ken Stewart, CEO of NUAIR. “Through the BBBRC, along with our long-term partner SUNY Upstate Medical University Hospital, we will be able to develop and deploy scalable drone delivery operations, creating jobs, having a positive economic impact on the state, providing quality services to a wider range of community members, bridging health equity gaps.”

Coalition Members Include:

The Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board; CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity; The City of Syracuse; County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency (COIDA); Density; Griffiss Institute; Helen Hudson, President-Syracuse Common Council; Le Moyne College; Mohawk Valley Community College; Mohawk Valley EDGE; New York State Empire State Development; NexGen Power Systems; Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance, Inc. (NUAIR); Oneida County; Onondaga Community College; Onondaga-Cortland-Madison Board of Cooperative Education Services (OCM BOCES); Onondaga County; Onondaga County Industrial Development Authority; Operation Oswego County; Oswego County; Refugee Center (“The Center”); Saab; South Side Innovation Center SUNY Educational Opportunity Center (SUNY EOC); SUNY Morrisville; SUNY Polytechnic Institute; SUNY Upstate Medical University; Syracuse City School District; and Syracuse University.

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