Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul spoke at the Hotel Utica Tuesday morning as part of the Sustainable Development Mohawk Valley Conference, joining local officials to praise how cooperation between the public and private sector has revived upstate New York’s economy.
The conference was a series of training sessions which focused on how developing businesses can best use local land, food and energy resources.
Last week, the state awarded the six-county Mohawk Valley Region $81.9 million in funding, tax credits and other incentives for 88 projects designed to spur job creation and business growth.
The state has invested over $1.8 billion towards business and job development in the Mohawk Valley, officials said, while labor department statistics show that private sector jobs in the region total 148,700. The unemployment rate has dropped from 7.7 percent in October 2010 to 4.7 percent this past October.
“All arrows are pointing up in the Mohawk Valley,” Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said.
Since 2011, New York State’s Regional Economic Development Council has invested $915,024,697 in the six-county Mohawk Valley region. This has led to 375 projects and 6,305 jobs created and retained, officials said. Hochul credited Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo with making sure political decisions would not allow New York City to overshadow upstate New York.
“Governor Cuomo decided he would laser-focus on upstate,” Hochul said. “This is about more than money. We have empowered people to have a say in what happens in government.”
Hochul encouraged college students to pursue careers in the burgeoning areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“I cannot overstate the importance of the STEM field,” she said. “We have the largest potential development in unmanned aerial systems not just in New York, but in the entire planet. There are 350,000 unfilled jobs in drone technology being developed between Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome and Syracuse.”
Keynote speaker Sherburne B. Abbott, professor of sustainability science and policy at Syracuse University, said those resources should follow a global template of preservation and focused use.
“We need to do more with more, and less with less,” Abbott said. “We need to help more people with more economic output, and do it while using less resources and less impact on the environment.”
Abbott cited statistics gathered by the United Nations. As the world population grew between 1950 and 1990 food consumption tripled and four times the amount of energy was used. Distribution of those resources, she said, needs to be improved.
“The Haudenosaunee plan the use of their resources depending on how it impacts the seventh generation, and I think their influence will be good on local planning,” Abbott said. “Climate change is not some far-off reality. We need to address it today.”
The Haudenosaunee Confederacy is also known as the six-nation Iroquois Confederacy, which includes the Oneida Indian Nation.