State, Local Leaders Will Meet On Future Of Rural New York

George Winner

July 17, 2006

Albany, N.Y.-- Nearly 200 state and local leaders from across upstate New York will gather in Syracuselater this week to discuss and suggest specific legislative strategies to address many of the key short- and long-term challenges confronting New York’s rural regions including economic and workforce development, health care and education.

This week'sFuture of Rural New York Symposium, being held at the Wyndham Hotel in Syracuse from July 19-21, is sponsored by Cornell University and the New York State Legislative Commission on Rural Resources (LCRR). The LCRR is a joint, bipartisan commission comprised of 10 members of the State Legislature chaired by Senator George H. Winner, Jr. (R-C, Elmira).

"One of the real bright lights of this year’s legislative session was a heightened awareness of the key challenges facing rural communities across New York," said Winner. "Now we need to rally more widespread support for a strategy to strengthen rural New York’s future. I eagerly look forward to reviewing the recommendations that participants at the Symposium present in our quest to advance a progressive legislative agenda that will benefit all citizens and communities in rural New York."

"The rural vision that is emerging from this project represents the diverse opportunities and challenges of our State's unique regions. Rural development in New York must build on strong networks and partnerships, pride of place, solid citizen support, engaged local governments and enhanced regional coordination," said Max Pfeffer, Chair of the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell. "We are pleased to be involved in this effort to identify rural development opportunities. This work is an important part of Cornell’s Land Grant Mission in New York State. New research and extension priorities will likely be identified during the Symposium, and by building this relationship with the LCRR and stakeholders around the state, we hope to be in a strengthened position to respond to these new priorities."

The Future of Rural New York Symposium is a key component of the Rural Vision Project, a collaborative effort between Cornell’s Community and Rural Development Institute (CaRDI), the Development Sociology Department’s Rural New York Initiative, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and the LCRR. The first phase of the Rural Vision Project involved a series of 11 regional listening sessions across the state between December 2005 and May 2006. More than 300 participants attended a listening session in their region, providing valuable information and identifying the challenges facing their communities. The Rural Vision Project Phase I Report includes the synopses of these listening sessions and other supporting information is available online at

Thisweek’s Symposium will include more than 165 local legislators, business and agricultural leaders and other officials, state agency representatives, Cornell Cooperative Extension educators, Cornell researchers and faculty. Participants will utilize the information gathered at the listening sessions as a resource to help them develop specific program and policy responses. The Symposium will feature small working groups focused on 11 major policy areas: rural economic development; workforce development; agriculture and food systems; land use, environment and natural resources; rural health care; transportation; rural schools and youth; housing; local government; energy; community capacity and social networks. Each group will be chaired by a member of the State Legislature and facilitated by a Cornell Cooperative Extension Educator.

Building on the Rural Vision Project, Winner and other members of the LCRR advanced a "Rural New York Agenda" earlier this year, a comprehensive package of legislation for rural regions. Several key elements were approved by both houses of the Legislature, including a proposal to expand broadband services in rural regions, and will be delivered to Governor George E. Pataki to be signed into law.

Following the Future of Rural New York Symposium a report will be issued containing major policy and program recommendations developed by participants. The report will be circulated widely to state and local policy makers and citizens.