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CEO FOCUS: Support Small Businesses, Key Drivers of Economic Growth

By Robert Simpson


National Small Business Week [which ran May 2-6, presented] a time to recognize the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small-business owners. 

In the Syracuse metro area, small businesses with fewer than 100 employees represent about 11,500 companies, which employ more than 80,000 people and contribute over $3.5 billion in annual payroll to the local economy. These companies are powerful economic drivers that help our communities create a vibrant sense of place. We know the pandemic was disproportionally disruptive to many of these companies, which is why it’s even more important to focus on ways we can support an engage them to drive their growth and success.

For our part, CenterState CEO officially [launched] Click ( on May 9. This new digital platform was created in response to an expressed interest by members for a place to interact directly with each other and make meaningful connections in an increasingly virtual world. Click offers an ever-growing library of e-books, video tutorials, and other expert-authored business content, member-only discussion forums, access to on-demand webinars on key business topics and a more robust system of membership and technical support. Sign up to get started on the Click website or contact to learn more.

CenterState CEO is also launching The Surge XBE Exchange, a pilot program through Syracuse Surge to help connect select businesses to other larger businesses and anchor institutions for procurement opportunities. The program specifically targets minority, woman, veteran, and/or disabled owned businesses, as well as those with 50 or fewer employees, among other qualifications. Contact CenterState CEO’s Honora Spillane, senior director of business and economic development, at to apply.

There are also several upcoming events to support small businesses, including CenterState CEO’s Small Business Toolbox Series ( and the popular Buy Local Bash, back in person May 19 at the CNY Regional Market’s F-Shed. Attendees can shop and sample offerings from more than 50 different food and retail vendors during this unique annual event. Ticket information can be found at:

We all have a role to play in celebrating our community’s small and locally owned businesses. I encourage you to think about where your business procures its services, where you host business lunches or meetings, where you shop for yourself or your family, and how you connect to businesses in our community. By shifting even a portion of your spending to small businesses you are helping drive growth and progress in our region.         

Robert M. Simpson is president and CEO of CenterState CEO, the primary economic-development organization for Central New York. This article is drawn and edited from the “CEO Focus” email newsletter that the organization sent to members on May 5.

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