UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – Based on Governor Kathy Hochul’s recent comments in the Times-Union, it seems as though her plans for the future of Utica are not what anyone was expecting.
While a reunification of the Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), and SUNY Albany, is not unexpected – we want to know – what is the plan for the Marcy campus after that takes place?
Based on the governor’s recent comment regarding SUNY Poly to the Albany Times-Union – it seems like her plan is to turn Utica into a kind of “education hub” with the graduates moving to Syracuse and Albany for their six-figure jobs. Oneida County Executive, Anthony Picente, explains the situation from his perspective.
“The reason these companies come and locate here is because they also want a pipeline of students. They don’t necessarily need a pipeline of training centers because they can do the training,” he explained, “Because what is done in Micron is different than what is done at Wolfspeed is different than what’s done at Indium.”
He continued, “Becoming a training facility and a hub so that, to your point, where people move in and out, that’s not the goal.”
“The goal is to have a pipeline of where students can go and get, get the skills they need, and then they will stay here.”
The question that we would like answered is – What about the economic development of Utica? Educating people just to have them move away is not a plan that will support the area’s economic development for years to come.
“You’re not always going to work in the same county that you live in, everybody knows that, but the fact that you have the opportunity of having an institution that can provide that type of engineering – Rather than sending it 90 plus miles down the road, we’re not gonna agree,” he said, “So, we need to find the common ground.”
To the Times-Union editorial board, Hochul said, “I have a very big vision for that part of the state that cannot be left behind, and they cannot feel like they’ve been robbed of something they had” – something that most in this area are already feeling; even the County Executive has only had one conversation with the governor pertaining to this topic.
“We’ve had one talk, and that was several months ago,” explained Picente. “And since that time, we’ve had some communication with her staff, but not really enough to make the headway.”
He concluded, “We’ll know some things in another week, and whether it’s her and we go back at it, or whether there’s a new governor that we can try and impress upon him the points that we just made, and why it’s important and why it’s so relevant. I think that’s our goal.”
And it’s important to note that we reached out to Governor Hochul’s office several times with a request for an interview but were denied. Instead, a spokesperson emailed me a statement that, unfortunately, did not provide adequate answers to the questions I proposed.
You can see the full statement below, provided by Spokesman Avi Small:
“Governor Hochul is committed to creating jobs and economic growth in every corner of the state, which is why this year’s budget made hundreds of millions of dollars of job-creating investments in Utica and the Mohawk Valley region. Governor Hochul was proud to host the grand opening of the Wolfspeed high-tech manufacturing center in Marcy, bringing more than 600 new high-tech jobs to Oneida County, and the Micron project negotiated by Governor Hochul will bring nearly 50,000 additional jobs to Upstate New York. The Governor is committed to strengthening SUNY Poly and is part of ongoing discussions with SUNY and local community stakeholders to develop a robust plan for the entire system, including SUNY Poly.
Given the claims you have shared with me about the supposed “lack of investment” in Utica, I also want to make sure you utilize this background information about the hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in investments that have come to the region under Governor Hochul’s leadership:
- To date, most of the students who have participated in internships at Wolfspeed and graduated to jobs there were SUNY Poly students from the Utica campus, meaning these jobs are staying in the community. For more information on the $1 billion Wolfspeed campus recently opened in Marcy: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-hochul-announces-grand-opening-wolfspeeds-1-billon-state-art-silicon-carbideGovernor Hochul Announces the Grand Opening of Wolfspeed’s $1 Billon State of the Art Silicon Carbide Fabrication Facility in the Mohawk Valley – Governor Kathy HochulEmpire State Development Acting Commissioner and President and CEO-designate Hope Knight said, “The opening of Wolfspeed’s silicon carbide chip fab in Marcy will be transformational for both the Mohawk Valley Region and New York State. From day one, Wolfspeed hit the ground running, made significant investments in workforce development, hired graduates from the SUNY system and has given back …www.governor.ny.gov
- Every region of New York State will benefit from the economic development project at Micron:
- The project will generate an additional $16.7 billion in economic output each year and $9.6 billion in GDP
- The project will generate an annual increase of $17.2 billion in state government revenue and an average annual increase of $25.6 billion in local government revenue over 31 years
- Governor Hochul’s budget investments in Utica and the Mohawk Valley Region include:
- $507 million for state and local roads and bridges over five years
- $34 million for other capital projects
- $73.0 million increase in P-12 school aid
- $93.4 million in child care subsidies to Mohawk Valley families
- $38.6 million in general purpose aid to local governments in the region
- $500,000 for the Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP) and Rural Preservation Program (RPP) to support community-based not-for-profit groups that provide housing assistance, community renewal activities, and rental subsidies
- Rental assistance for nearly 200 nearly units of low-income housing
- $500,000 to increase funding for public health initiatives at local health departments in the region.
- Tax cuts for the Mohawk Valley Region
- A Homeowner Tax Rebate Credit for an estimated 100,000 property tax-paying households
- Accelerated middle-class tax cuts for more than 110,000 taxpayers
- Earned Income Tax Credit bonus payment for nearly 27,000 taxpayers
- Empire State Child Credit bonus payment for more than 36,000 taxpayers
- $750,000 for parks projects
- $500,000 to stand up a SNUG site in Utica for gun violence reduction
- $13 million to support addiction treatment, recovery, and prevention
- $605,000 for veteran services”