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Some Optimism, Some Challenges in CNY Economic Forecast

Centerstate CEO/Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc.

There’s quite a bit of optimism about the local economy among businesses and analysts at Wednesday's Economic Forecast Breakfast…though much of it is guarded.  There is also some uncertainty and a challenge to businesses to break the status quo. 

Quite the mixed bag of data, projections and opinions at the Centerstate C-E-O Economic Forecast event.  A third party survey found two-thirds of local companies experienced growth in 2016; and a slightly higher percentage expect sales and revenues to be up this year. 

Trends show positive results &optimism among many CNY Businesses

  • 67% experienced growth in 2016, up from 58% in 2015.
  • 68% anticipate increased sales or revenue in 2017; up 5% from 2016 projections.
  • 51% expect to expand product and services in 2017, down 7% from 2016 projections.
  • 49% expect profits to increase in 2017, up 2% from 2016 projections.
  • 53% expect an increase in jobs and hiring in 2017, up 9% from 2016 projections. 
  • (source: Research and Marketing Strategies)

M & T Bank economist Gary Keith has another trend he likes.

“The help-wanted signs remain out.  The biggest part of US economy is consumer spending and consumer spending is a factor of having a job, having a paycheck, spending that paycheck.  The fact that employers want to bring more people online to a  greater extent than we’ve seen in years is a positive to me.”

Credit M&T Bank
GDP growth since 2007 is another indicator that shows how CNY has lagged behind other metro areas.

Other indicators such as unemployment and household income are also going in the right direction.  But Keith finds growth slow – around three-and-a-half percent for non-industrial firms – compared to other U.S. Metro areas seeing 10 to 12 percent.

“This is the area that really has to be looked at for how can we energize activity; how can we diversify; how can we become a broader-based economy in order to capture some of that US momentum?  And frankly again in the past year we moved a bit sideways relative to the US progress.”

One reason Central New York lagged a bit behind is clear to Centerstate President Rob Simpson. 

Credit M&T Bank
More innovation, creativity and less government inaction could pave he way for CNY to catch up to other areas, in terms of growth, according to Centerstate's Simpson

“Our peer cities are evolving and diversifying their economies in profound ways and we are not keeping pace.  We still have nostalgia for some of the businesses and industries we’ve lost which inhibits us from putting our full attention on the types of economic opportunities that we can conceivably grasp in the future.”

Simpson says status quo thinking is holding us back…and gave as further example the inability to pick a site for an inland port …and as many as a thousand jobs.

“South Carolina’s inland port is so successful they’re building a second one.  And our own port of New York and New Jersey has just unveiled a 10-year, $32-billion capital plan in alleviating congestion from projected new freight traffic.”


Centerstate CEO President Rob Simpson expands on why area is lagging behind other Upstate cities, the need for consolidation through the Consensus Project, and how Interstate 81, and the decisions ahead about rebuilding or replacing it, could be crucial.

Simpson also addressed the Consensus plan on government consolidation that he says most residents support   , as well as creative thinking on interstate 81 for the long term, not just current interests.

“Because every option has some form of negative impact but not every option is transformative. And in the end that is what this community needs the most: transformation, new investment and a better solution than we received 60 years ago.”

Simpson’s challenge to the 600-odd business people in the audience is to think more innovatively…if the area’s modest 3.0 to 3.5% growth will ramp up anytime soon.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.