From Left: Madison County IDA Executive Director Kipp Hicks, Colgate University President Jeffrey Herbst, and Rob Simpson `97, CenterState CEO president.

President Jeffrey Herbst welcomed state and regional economic development officials, along with Madison County business executives, to an on-campus group discussion this week focused on regional growth, employment, and entrepreneurial assistance.

“Colgate both plays an important part in the region, and is critically affected by the fortunes of the region,” Herbst said. “We’ve been right here since 1819 and we believe that we will be right here forever. There are very few organizations, families, or companies that make that kind of statement of permanency.”
Alumni Rob M. Simpson ’97, co-chairman of the Central NY Economic Development Council (CNYEDC) and president of CenterState CEO, said it is important for his agency to hear from local business leaders and county development officials to determine what projects might benefit from state grants and special funding.

The CNYEDC is one of 10 regional councils created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2011 to help facilitate economic development across county lines. The organization is designed to help identify and develop projects to best encourage job creation, community enhancement, and regional tourism.

“This is a new way of economic development that’s built around anchor institutions and market-driven strategies,” Simpson said, adding that connections to the many institutions of higher education in NY is critical for success.

Colgate has invested about $30 million in improvements to downtown Hamilton in recent years. State research shows institutions of higher education contributed about $2.8 billion to the economy of central New York in 2011.

Nicole Simpson, Colgate associate professor of economics, said the university’s Upstate Institute, which encourages faculty and student research in the region, may be a good portal for increased connection with Madison County businesses.

“Students really want to learn about the region, and they really want to help it,” Simpson said. “A trickle leads into a flood, and I think the Upstate Institute is very open to having those conversations.”

Attendees included representatives from manufacturing, agriculture, consumer products, brewing, winemaking, and Fran Duskiewicz ’81, senior executive VP for Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes.

Herbst said it is important for Colgate to continue the economic discourse spurred by this week’s meeting.

“Of course it’s very important for us to continue to develop economic ties with all of you, and to assist you… but also to see how you can benefit from the many things the university does,” Herbst said.