After three years of knocking on doors, what do you find people are talking about?
The thing that concerns people the most is whether Central New York is going to be a place their grandchildren are going to settle. The children are here sometimes, sometimes not, and sometimes they can be attracted back. I love it here. I've been able to make a living here. But I'm not sure if my children or my grandchildren either will be able to do the same thing, or will want to. It doesn't really fall into any of the convenient boxes: is it the economy, education, health care, but that's the number one thing. When I talk about wanting to put the region back on the map, that's really the thing that gets the nodding going on, even if it's someone I've never talked to before.
This once was where history was happening, for hundreds of years, from the Haudenoshonee to the Erie Canal through the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, certainly the Women's Movement, the Peace Movement, the Republican Party. And now it's not. And do we get that again. Is it lost forever? That's a question. I believe it's not, of course.
After three years of sorting through the issues, do you have a message you can put into one sentence?
Our message is, we want to make Central New York proud of itself and prosperous so that young families know that their future is here.
A whole lot of people have been talking on that theme, almost like the weather, everybody talking about getting jobs here, but nobody doing anything about it. What can really be done, particularly from Congress?
The general question is, yes a lot of people have been talking about it. And by the way, a lot of them are doing something about it. It's not true that nothing is going on. In fact a lot is going on. We have the dots. We just have failed to really connect them. It's the concept of critical mass. We have new companies doing something. We have the University doing something. We have non-profits doing something. We've got arts going on. How do we then get other things to connect up so that we, Central New Yorkers, believe in ourselves again, and people on the outside see that and are attracted here. So I think it's good a of people are talking about it. To get it done, we just need to build more connections. We have to think regionally, as an energy capital. We have to do some of the branding stuff we've seen with the creative core, but do it more, advertising ourselves in other places.