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CEO FOCUS: CenterState CEO’s Inclusive Growth Team to Drive New Impact

By Robert Simpson


Will help businesses, people, and community

Earlier this fall, we announced the creation of a new organizational structure that resulted from a strategic refresh process conducted with the support of our board of directors. Our goal was to ensure that we have a refined set of goals, metrics, and the necessary structure and resources to best meet the evolving needs of our members and the community.

One of the most significant structural changes that resulted from these efforts is the creation of the Inclusive Growth team, which will be led by Dominic Robinson. The Inclusive Growth team now brings together the majority of the organization’s direct programs, services, and initiatives, including core areas of business expansion, retention and attraction; business incubation and acceleration (including The Tech Garden); workforce development; community investment and prosperity; and cluster development. While much of this work has been done collaboratively for years to deliver resources and expertise to members and clients, the integration of these focus areas under a single strategy enables better synergies, efficiencies and ultimately better outcomes. 

CenterState CEO’s economic-development staff within the Inclusive Growth team, led by VP of Economic Development Nora Spillane, will help businesses navigate the region’s economic-development resources and incentives to encourage hiring, capital investments, and expansions and relocations. They will provide custom assistance and support from the factfinding stage to project completion. Additionally, they will focus on strategic areas of assistance to support the attraction, retention, and expansion of businesses in key industries and clusters. The staff will also prioritize assistance to companies seeking to start, relocate, or grow in Central New York, as well as those that make our region more equitable and globally competitive.

Likewise, our innovation and entrepreneurial staff, led by Interim VP John Liddy, will work to ensure that The Tech Garden’s current incubation programs and resources support not only tech companies, but startup companies across our ecosystem to ensure a broad range of entrepreneurs have the tools they need to turn their business idea into a reality. As part of this we will be streamlining functions across our Tech Garden programs, Up Start, and scaling Syracuse Surge programs and the Growth and Equity Fund. This refocus for our innovation and entrepreneurial efforts comes at a critical moment when we are also embarking on an expansion project of the Tech Garden. When completed, the new facility will be better able to meet the needs of more of this community’s growth-oriented companies. 

Finding hidden talent in our communities and connecting them to opportunities has long been a central focus of our work, which is now all the more critical as we embark on the planning and preparation needed to maximize the historical investment being made by Micron. Through our workforce-development staff (including Work Train), led by Aimee Durfee, we will develop and scale equity-driven workforce strategies and partnerships, diverse supply chain and contractor pipelines, and support the attraction and placement of suppliers and secondary growth targets. 

I am incredibly excited to see this team come together as we work toward our organization’s vision to create a community where businesses thrive, and all people prosper. There is no better leader for this new team than Dominic Robinson, and we look forward to sharing the continued impact driven by our inclusive-growth work in the year ahead.      

Robert M. Simpson is president and CEO of CenterState CEO, the primary economic-development and chamber of commerce organization for Central New York. This article is drawn and edited from the “CEO Focus” email newsletter that the organization sent to members on Dec. 1.