On the first stop of an Upstate cities swing, State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith and Senator David J. Valesky (D-Oneida) met with Mayor Matt Driscoll in Syracuse to discuss concerns facing Upstate, as well as ways the new Senate Majority can work with local leaders to spur economic revitalization. The visit comes just one day after Smith was elected as the new Senate Majority Leader, the first Democrat to hold that position in 43 years.
At the meeting Senator Smith, Senator Valesky and Mayor Driscoll talked about the Senate majority's commitment to Upstate New York, and discussed ways to work together to grow the Upstate economy with 21st Century solutions, as well as revitalize cities like Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo to again be the economic engines they once were.
"Revitalizing the Upstate economy is a top priority of the new Majority," said Senator Smith. "The initiatives coming out of Albany in recent decades have failed. Moving forward, Senate Democrats are committed to working with local communities to develop a plan to get Upstate back on track. The task at hand is to attract businesses back, keep our kids here in the communities they grow up in, and a job waiting for them after they graduate."
Senator Smith also used the visit to announce a prominent leadership role in the new Senate for Senator Valesky, again showing the commitment to Upstate concerns. Valesky will be named Vice President Pro Tempore of the Senate, serving as an ex-officio on every committee and paying special concern to Upstate issues. The position makes Valesky the highest ranking Senator from Upstate New York.
"I am honored to serve in the new Senate Majority and will work to be a constant voice and advocate for Upstate concerns," said Valesky. "Chief among those concerns is economic revitalization and job creation. And that is why we are here today to meet with Mayor Driscoll and other mayors from major Upstate cities."
Among the economic development proposals discussed were:
Utilizing the many natural advantages of Upstate, such as open space, diverse agriculture, and waterways to expand and develop new alternative energies and secure Upstate as the green energy jobs and technology hub of the Northeast.
Constructing high speed rail that would better connect urban and rural communities and foster increased trade.
Retrofitting existing manufacturing companies to meet the needs of future technology to prevent a further loss of jobs.
Linking rural agriculture with city consumers and promoting New York produced and built products in neighboring states.
Cleaning up brownfields to get these properties back on the tax rolls and available for business.
Mayor Driscoll said, "My administration is working hand in hand with the Governor and legislators in Albany so that our families can prosper. I have worked closely with Senator Valesky on many issues and now that he is a leader in the Senate Majority, many of our initiatives will have the opportunity to move forward."
"The residents of Syracuse, Plattsburgh, Buffalo, Elmira and every city, town and village in between are tired of Albany in-fighting. They want their elected officials to put politics aside and get results. My colleagues and I are committed to doing that," concluded Senator Smith.