In New York state, Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney (R) is changing how her county approaches economic development. In a report from WRVO, Mahoney explains that encouraging development in downtown Syracuse, which lies at the heart of Onondaga County, will help the economy of the entire region.
Previous county executives focused development in the ring of suburbs outside of Syracuse, which lies at the heart of Onondaga County. By accommodating – and even subsidizing – growth outside the city center, the county has slowly eroded Syracuse’s once-thriving business district: more than a dozen office buildings downtown now stand 100% empty. Mahoney explains that Onondaga County can’t thrive if growth comes at the cost of downtown Syracuse, and she’s working to bring a different model of development to the county.
Mahoney also explains that the county is struggling to support development in Syracuse’s outer suburbs: it’s simply too expensive for the county to afford. While it might be cheaper up front to build a building on the outskirts of town, it raises the burden on taxpayers who then have to fund the sewer lines and roads to those new buildings.
Instead Mahoney suggests creating tax incentives for businesses to locate in downtown Syracuse. This strategy, she explains, will reduce costs for the county and benefit the economy of the entire region. Business owners are in favor of the idea: “This would be a catalyst on Warren Street,” said Chuck Sangster, a developer in Syracuse.
Listen to the full story: Empty Syracuse, Part 1 [WRVO (N.Y.), 4/20/2011]