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McMahon, other upstate county executives discuss economic recovery from pandemic

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Central New York passed phase one of New York’s regional economic reopening with flying colors and is now working its way through phase two of restarting it economy from the COVID-19 shutdown, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon contends.

“Now we have enough data to show that the phase one opening had no impact on our health data. Our data got better,” McMahon said on a webinar, titled “Rebuild Upstate: The View Ahead,” hosted by Upstate Venture Connect via Zoom on Thursday afternoon. “The virus itself is starting to weaken.”

McMahon said he’s happy Gov. Andrew Cuomo opened up restaurants for outdoor dining Thursday as part of phase two of the regional reopening, which started last Friday.


“We’ve got to be nimble going forward because economic activity is our biggest challenge right now” the county executive said. “We’ve got to get businesses back going,” making products and generating revenue.

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, also appearing on the webinar, agreed with McMahon that economic development is a big challenge, especially now with reduced county sales tax revenues. “The ability for us to work with the business community is limited because county revenues are down,” he said.

Still, Picente sees an opportunity upstate New York regions. He says Upstate is attractive for businesses that seek to relocate in a post-pandemic world. Quality of life, low cost of housing and other amenities are selling points.

“We were on a great roll and then all of a sudden this happened,” added Picente, who is optimistic “we’ll be better when we get through this.”

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello was the third county executive on the webinar. He said he’s concerned with the hospitality industry, which was hit the hardest by the pandemic and will take the longest to recover. He sees economic-development opportunities in working with Rochester–area universities. Bello is also optimistic his region will “be in a better position by the end of this calendar year.”

The webinar was the first in a planned series of Rebuild Upstate-themed leadership conversations organized by Upstate Venture Connect (UVC). The Rochester Beacon, a nonprofit digital news publication, is partnering with UVC on this effort to share leaders’ views from across Upstate. The Central New York Business Journal, Utica Observer-Dispatch, and Herkimer Times-Telegraph are also media partners.

UVC is a nonprofit devoted to creating an entrepreneur-led startup ecosystem for Upstate.




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