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Syracuse Economy Expected To Grow, Report Shows

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Sean Farrell
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The overwhelming majority of businesses in the region plan to grow or maintain job levels in 2015, according to data presented on Thursday at Centerstate CEO's Economic Forecast Breakfast at the Oncenter.

About 93 percent of survey respondents plan to expand or keep employment numbers constant, Centerstate CEO's president Rob Simpson revealed at the conference.

"That's really positive," Simpson said.  "We haven't seen that type of confidence in our employers in a very long time, especially given the fact that while things are good, they're not great. So it stands to reason that businesses are going to maintain some level of caution. For them to give us those types of indicators, we view as a very, very positive sign."

Every year, Centerstate CEO provides a glimpse of the how members of the business community feel about the year ahead.  The 2015 Economic Forecast provided a snapshot from 14 business sectors in 12 surrounding counties including Onondaga County. The comprehensive report looks at manufacturing, technology, small business and healthcare, just to name a few.

Simpson told a crowd of more than 600 people that 51 percent of respondents project an increase and jobs and hiring over 2015, compared to just seven percent who expect to shed staff.

"That's the widest discrepancy between those two numbers that we've seen since before the recession," Simpson said.  "That seven percent number is the lowest we've seen in probably close to a decade."

A report by M&T Bank economist Gary Keith reveals that the local trends are consistent with what's been going on across the country.  Corporate profits have risen to historical high levels, which have led companies to increase spending to meet consumer demand.  

In 2014, more than 2.5 million private sector jobs were created.  Keith projects the U.S. economy to grow by 3.0 percent this year, which would be its best performance in a decade.

The growths in Syracuse have come through new startups, a "thriving entrepreneurial culture" in the region and investments in the downtown area.

But Simpson noted that the local economy still faces some pretty significant challenges, including poverty in the city of Syracuse and a shrinking workforce across the area.

"Those are things that will not be solved by individual politicians," he said.  "Those are things that will not be solved by any individual business.  They are things that will be solved if we put our hands together and work together to prioritize and, ultimately, to implement impactful programs and initiatives."