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Civic and Business Leaders Share Optimism Expressed in Ryan McMahon's State of the County Address

Onondaga County

Community leaders are sharing Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon’s optimism after a state of the county address that emphasized opportunity and unity. 

President of Centerstate CEO Rob Simpson says the level of collaboration between government, business, and not-for-profits is as strong as he’s ever seen.

"We're seeing that translate into wins, whether it's with the STEAM school, whether it's with jobs and economic development projects like JMA Wireless, the major distribution facility in Clay, so many of these things are the product of a shared vision and collaboration, and I've never been more excited for what the future holds for Onondaga County." 

But Simpson acknowledges, as did McMahon in his speech, that the future isn’t so bright for residents stuck in poverty. 

"[Poverty] has to be a part of our focus. We cannot succeed economically, we cannot have a sustainable, vibrant community if we are living economically unequal in such highly segregated ways, especially along racial lines."

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh is glad the county executive has made poverty a top priority.

"He knows it's not unique to this city and it does impact his constituents in our suburbs and our rural areas, but he also knows that as the county, they play a significant role in being able to address that issue. They are the social service provider in this community, so they are often engaging with the key stakeholders, even within the city, sometimes more than we are."

Walsh says tackling poverty, as well as sharing services and promoting economic development, won’t happen without the current alignment in leadership and priorities.

Meanwhile, McMahon is also focused on continuing the transformation of Onondaga Lake back to a recreational jewel.  He announced that Honeywell is donating 40 acres of parkland along the shoreline, the last privately owned property on the lake.  County Legislature Chair Dave Knapp says public access to the lake is key.

"Everybody is curious about the lake, and I think the more that we can do to get olks down there to see it, how beautiful it is, what it's become. I was up there are the new viewing area which was built as part of the trail, and it's just gorgeous. You can see the city in the distance. I think it's got great potential."

The final pieces of the Loop-the-Lake Trail are now falling into place, in addition to the Lake Lounge viewing and seating area. 

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at