Top executives from Microsoft joined with the city of Syracuse, Onondaga County and Syracuse University Thursday to officially kick off a new Digital alliance. Under the agreement, Microsoft will make Syracuse its first Northeast Technology Hub with an emphasis on creating an inclusive environment.
Mayor Ben Walsh says that’s an important component of this partnership.
"Micrsosoft would not be here if inclusion was not a key part of our strategy. By focusing on inclusion, that's ultimately what set us apart from every other city across the country. There's a lot of cities trying to grow their technology sector, but there are few that are doing it in a way that is truly inclusive."
Syracuse University’s School of information studies is another partner in the alliance with Microsoft. Interim Dean David Seaman says this partnership will allow students to work with live data in way that is beneficial to their studies and to the community.
"This isn't a practice run. They'll be working with real municipal data coming from any smart city device. There are street lights sending out data; there are snow plows with data loggers. This Microsoft partnership will greatly accelerate that."
Seaman says the alliance will be transformative for the university and the city. County Executive Ryan McMahon says the collaboration is important in terms of growing the county’s economy and putting Syracuse ahead of the competition.
"I've already met with companies over the last few weeks that we're competing against for large investments with other communities in other states. I've already been able to talk about this and what this means. That carries a real weight," McMahon said. "When you have the workforce and the talent pool, you can go get more companies because they'll have people here to hire. It's all about talent right now with these companies. They're making decisions about where they can go and find people they can hire on day one."
Microsoft officials were on hand for Thursday’s announcement but were not made available for interviews with the media. They spent the week here meeting with stakeholders and planning the programs and services it will make available to residents, non-profits and businesses.