Education, Energy And Economic Development

David J. Valesky

November 09, 2007

The political season is finally behind us, and now it is time to focus on the coming holidays as we prepare for the end of this year and the beginning of the next. While most of us are happy to view the landscape without lawn signs, there is at least one important subject matter talked about a great deal this campaign season that I hope we can continue to focus on in the coming year. It is a subject that I and others have promoted for some time, and that I believe holds great promise for our region. The subject I am referring to is the burgeoning green technology industry in Central New York .
For more than a decade the people of Central New York have wondered, how can we protect the jobs we have, while we attract new investment? Parents have asked, what can we do to keep our young people and to rebuild our local economy? And local leaders have struggled with questions about how we position our region for an uncertain future. We may finally have the makings of an

In recent years, economic development gurus, like Carnagie-Mellon's Richard Florida, have argued that colleges and universities will be the foundation for future economic growth. Other experts have come to Central New York and advised us that the intellectual capital of our universities could be a catalyst for prosperity.

Well, it just so happens that our region is not only home to some of the finest colleges and universities in the country, but these schools are home to some of the world's top researchers in the fields of alternative energy, environmental building design and indoor air quality. Between SUNY ESF and Syracuse University, Clarkson and Cornell, Morrisville State College and Onondaga Community College, we have institutions finding new energy sources, like willow and algae; we have researchers working on new sustainable materials, like those developed by e2e materials; and we have students preparing to be the next entrepreneurs and green collar workers.

These are our region’s greatest intellectual assets. And, if properly linked and promoted, these assets will make up the foundation for our future economic strength. Around my Senate office we talk about this nexus as the three "e"s: Education, Energy and Economic development.
The candidates and political leaders who have talked about the promise of green industry are far from alone. For several years now, researchers, academics, business people and local leaders have been building relationships and working to lay a foundation for green technologies. At a hub of all this work, has been the Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems. The CoE is a partnership of businesses and research institutions, led by Syracuse University and supported through the State of New York ’s NYSTAR program.

Because of all the work that has been done here, we are well on our way to creating the economy of the future here in Central New York . And people around the country are beginning to recognize our region as one of the leaders in green technology. People everywhere know that there is a green wave overtaking this region.

Still, there is much more work to be done. We are in a race with other regions to become the national leader in these growing green technologies. And the only way we will secure that position is by working together to achieve our regional goals. So with the election behind us, it is time to put politics aside, to put our heads together and to work creatively to ensure our future is bright, prosperous -- and green.