Microsoft has chosen Syracuse to be home to its first Smart Cities technology hub in the northeast. It would be one of the next big pieces of the Syracuse Surge project to revitalize the neighborhoods just south of downtown. City officials discussed the partnership Thursday with common councilors.
Chief Data Officer Sam Edelstein says economic and workforce development is one of the primary goals.
"The way that this economy is going to change is very much through the use of modernized technology. Then having a partner like Microsoft on board, as well as partnership with the other partners at the table, is really critical."
Edelstein says the company plans to open a physical space in the city.
"This location would have Microsoft employees helping to grow and modernize existing companies throughout the city and region with supportive grants and other resources-- things like training, consulting opportunities..."
City officials say a location for the Microsoft space has not been determined. Meanwhile, the Tech Garden business incubator will be expanded. Deputy Commissioner of Neighborhood and Business Development Jennifer Tifft says work should begin in 2020.
"We'll see additional floors added to that facility, which will, of course, give us additional capacity in our community to incubate some of the start-ups. Some of the start-ups are actually here today, who are excited about this partnership with Microsoft, so that's another great feather in our cap."
The global technology company will work with education institutions and community organizations for digital literacy and workforce training. As a part of the deal, Microsoft will host a public innovation summit, and create long term opportunities in the research of artificial intelligence. The Microsoft partnership includes the city, Onondaga County, and the i-School at Syracuse University. Common councilors could vote to signal their support for the agreement on Monday.