East Hill Notes: Economic Development, Ithaca Illustrated

By Gary Stewart

Recent, high-profile construction projects in and around Ithaca and Tompkins County represent one level of growth and economic development, while less visible success stories play out every day through venues and programs – large and small. Here is a sampling:
— Rev – revithaca.com – the downtown Ithaca business incubator supported by Cornell University, Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College, continues to grow and lead diverse and engaged demographics.
The November Networking@Rev was Ithaca College’s Startup Idea Demo Day, where 12 IC students presented their business ideas to entrepreneurs who awarded $5,000 to help those concepts become a reality. The next Networking@Rev event is Thursday, February 2, 2017, and will feature pitches on clean energy startups, in partnership with the 76West Clean Energy Competition.
Rev will also host the Global New York team that is coming to Ithaca Tuesday, January 10, 2017, to introduce the $35 million Global NY Fund, which provides loans and grants to help small- and medium-size New York businesses start exporting or increase their global export sales. Grants are also available to non-profits that provide export assistance and trade education to companies locally and statewide. Both the networking and Global New York events are free and open to the public. RSVP at www.eventbrite.com.
— The Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce – www.tompkinschamber.org – and Tompkins County Area Development – tcad.org – which include Cornell staff among its board members – continue to lead and assist area residents and businesses on several fronts. The chamber has more than 700 active members and provides dynamic networking and training opportunities on a year-round basis. This year alone, the chamber distributed $114,000 in on-the-job-training grants that offset expenses for local businesses.
The 2015-2020 Tompkins County Economic Development Strategy was developed and implemented by TCAD and is an integral part of the county’s comprehensive plan. TCAD also led an ask from the Tompkins County Legislature to create a task force and address the following question: Over the next five years, what key issues do we need to address locally to advance Tompkins County’s greenhouse gas emissions goals while supporting the County’s economic development strategy?
The Energy and Economic Development Task Force met 18 times between June 2015 and June 2016, and the final report recommends key next steps. It can be viewed at tcad.org/final-report-available.
Cornell is proud to collaborate with these and numerous other local partners, while its own economic impact is reflected, in part, by a recently released report from the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities that represents New York’s 100-plus private colleges and universities. The total economic impact of New York’s independent sector of higher education in 2015 was $79.6 billion, an increase of $5.3 billion (7 percent) from 2013. Independent sector colleges and universities continue to be a major source of jobs across all regions of New York State, fueling employment for 406,300 people both directly and through spillover effects. Total employment in the sector grew by 3 percent between 2013 and 2015.
In the Southern Tier, Cornell, Ithaca College and Elmira College helped drive $279.4 million in visitor spending in 2015, with a cumulative $2.3 billion payroll that includes construction and indirect/induced economic activity. More details are available at cicu.org.
In the first quarter of 2017, Cornell will once again produce an economic impact snapshot that captures of local data, including purchasing, construction, contributions, property taxes, municipal fees, and other topics touched on in the CICU report. Last year’s snapshot can be found at universityrelations.cornell.edu/files/2016/03/Local_economic_imapact_2015_snapshot-2btp9nn.pdf. The university also has a website that focuses on economic impact, which can be found at www.cornell.edu/features/economic-impact.
Economic development and related challenges and opportunities will always require new collaborations and data-driven decision making. Cornell is fortunate to have so many progressive community partners who find value in this shared work and the related planning.
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East Hill Notes are published the second and fourth Mondays in Tompkins Weekly. Gary Stewart is associate vice president in the Office of Cornell Community Relations.