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Business Community Reflects Best of CNY’s Spirit During COVID-19

By Robert Simpson


“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” — Desmond Tutu 

This is the essence of how our community has come together during the COVID-19 crisis. We were recently proud to celebrate the best of our community by partnering with NewsChannel 9 WSYR for the hour-long program, “Central New York Resilient.” If you missed it, we invite you to watch it here:

Together, we shared the stories of businesses pivoting to provide critical resources to the community, from hand sanitizer to test kits; firms donating masks for frontline workers; small businesses adopting new operational models to serve customers and clients; and financial institutions and nonprofits creating grant programs to bridge funding gaps. At a time when our country is still reeling from the health and economic impacts of this virus, business and community leaders across Central New York have responded with compassion and action, showing that, together, we can drive a strong recovery. Thank you to all those who participated in this program and helped make it a success. 

Even now, several months into this crisis, the business community continues to find ways to meet the ongoing needs of its neighbors. [In two successive weeks], CenterState CEO provided more than 2,000 free personal protective equipment toolkits to small businesses across five Central New York locations, thanks to a generous grant from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. The toolkits included hand sanitizer, protective masks, best practice tips and guideline posters from local partners: Lock 1 Distilling Company, Beak & Skiff/1911 Established, Dreissig Apparel Inc., Oswego Industries and Dupli Envelope & Graphics. We thank them for their support. 

As we work to rebuild and drive a more robust, inclusive, and resilient economy following this pandemic, there is both opportunity and obligation for the business community to respond with similar compassion, action, and intention as it examines its corporate responsibilities for social and economic justice. We must not lose sight of the racial and socio-economic disparities that persist within our community, and prevent the realization of CenterState CEO’s vision for a region where all people prosper. In this moment, the business community must lead and model the change that we so desperately need and want to see, with greater equity and opportunity for everyone who calls Central New York home. I invite you to watch the recording of our webinar from [July 16], called “Driving Equity and Inclusion,” for an excellent dialogue on how leaders in our community are [creating] and inspiring change through their work. It’s available here:

While there is no way of knowing how long this crisis will last, what I do know is that our resilience will continue to drive our ability to overcome whatever challenges we face. It is that spirit that makes me proud to be a part of this community, and incredibly hopeful for our future.             

Robert M. (Rob) Simpson is president and CEO of CenterState CEO, the primary economic-development organization for Central New York. This viewpoint is drawn and edited from the “CEO Focus” email newsletter that the organization sent to members on July 16. 

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