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Picente honors economic-development leader, outlines initiatives in State of the County Address

By Traci DeLore (tdelore@cnybj.com)

Date:

Anthony J. Picente, Jr. (Photo credit: Anthony J. Picente Facebook profile)

VERONA, N.Y. — Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr. discussed a number of issues in his 2024 State of the County Address, presented on Thursday, May 9 at Turning Stone Resort Casino, including recognizing a recently departed area economic-development legend.

Picente started his address by honoring his friend and economic-development peer Steve DiMeo, the former president of Mohawk Valley EDGE who passed away at the age of 69 on March 6.

“He was a giant in the field of economic development, a pillar of our community, and my friend for over 40 years,” Picente said. “Steve was a tireless advocate for this community. He was brilliant. His vision and legendary work ethic have been, and will remain, a cornerstone of the organization he left from its inception.”

Picente noted the Griffiss Business and Technology Park, a former Air Force base transformed into a now-thriving business park, as an example of DiMeo’s vision.

“He could see what it would become, but he also knew how to make it reality,” Picente said. “I’m truly honored to announce that going forward it will be known as Griffiss Business and Technology Park at the Steven J. DiMeo Campus.”

 

Economic-development success

Picente cited recent successes in Oneida County that show the decades of economic-development work coming to fruition including Wolfspeed, Wynn Hospital, the planned evolution of Turning Stone, and the Utica University Nexus Center, which just hosted the 2024 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s World Championship last month.

The hockey tournament sold more tickets than any other Women’s World Championship ever and twice broke the Adirondack Bank Center’s modern-day attendance record.

“Every single person involved who I spoke with told us over and over what an unbelievable two weeks it had been and how this was their most successful tournament to date,” Picente said.

And the county is poised to deliver again this September when it hosts the World Lacrosse Box Championships, he added. “Forty-eight teams. Nine days. The best players in the world. I have no doubt this will be another top-tier event.”

Looking ahead, Picente announced the county will invest $2 million with Mohawk Valley EDGE to create flexspace at the Marcy Nanocenter site aimed at supply-chain businesses essential to the semiconductor industry.

The county was also awarded $23 million to build a high-tech supply-chain campus at Griffiss International Airport in Rome to further support the growing industry in the county.

“We have had unbelievable successes in high-tech industry, especially in the semiconductor field,” he said. “Oneida County’s semiconductor industry currently employs over 2,100 people.”

Also in Rome, Picente outlined a proposal to “reinvigorate” the Fort Stanwix National Monument with more events and new programming while also looking at ways to minimize the site’s impact on traffic flow in the downtown corridor.

A planned retail and entertainment district around the fort never came to fruition, he noted, and its past time to develop the space around the fort to complement the historic site.

“Fort Stanwix can be rejuvenated by physical integration into the city it calls home, unique and engaging programming, and a plan for redevelopment in and around it that blends history, entertainment, and other opportunities.”

Picente also touched on other areas of economic opportunity including a dairy processing plant feasibility study to identify the county’s capacity and processing needs for the future and the redevelopment of the former St. Luke’s Hospital campus.

He also outlined initiatives to tackle issues such as mental health, lack of childcare, crime including illegal smoke shops, and youth violence.

“How can we do all of this?” he asked. “The simple answer is that we are the government that touches more lives and are looked to when the most complex and difficult of circumstances arise.”