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Task force formed to develop coronavirus strategies for Syracuse–area business community

By Eric Reinhardt (ereinhardt@cnybj.com)

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Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh (center) on Wednesday announced the formation of an economic resiliency task force to help guide Syracuse and Onondaga County companies through the coronavirus pandemic. Walsh announced the group during Wednesday’s daily coronavirus briefing at the Oncenter. Andrew Fish, senior vice president of business development at CenterState CEO (at podium) and Randy Wolken (left), president and CEO of the MACNY, the Manufacturers Association, also spoke about the task force. (Eric Reinhardt / CNYBJ)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A joint task force of public and private-sector leaders has been formed to help guide the Syracuse and Onondaga County business and nonprofit communities through the coronavirus crisis.

The group will help “make plans for the resurgence of our economy,” Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said in making the announcement Wednesday at the daily COVID-19 briefing at the Oncenter.

The economic resiliency task force, which has eight members, will devise strategies to help companies continue operations and plan for the recovery of the local economy.

The City of Syracuse, Onondaga County, CenterState CEO, and the Manufacturers Association of Central New York (MACNY) organized the group, Walsh said.

The task force members include Nate Andrews, president of Morse Manufacturing; Calvin Corriders, regional president of Pathfinder Bank; Jeff Davis, partner at Barclay Damon, LLP; Jo Anne Gagliano, president of Environmental Design & Research and chair of the Syracuse Regional Airport Authority; David Hoyne, owner of Kitty Hoynes; Evelyn Ingram, director of community relations at Wegmans; Jeff Knauss, CEO of  Digital Hyve; and Loretta Zolkowski, executive director of the Human Services Leadership Council.

The volunteer task force will undertake a four-stage response to the economic challenges presented by the pandemic: assess, respond, mitigate, and recover.

It will draw on the resources and expertise of a “working team” made up of staff from the Syracuse Department of Neighborhood and Business Development; the Onondaga County Office of Economic Development; CenterState CEO; MACNY; the Downtown Committee; Visit Syracuse; New York State Empire State Development; the U.S. Small Business Administration; and the Central New York International Business Alliance.

Work on the four-phase approach is “already underway,” per the joint news release about the group.

Assess

CenterState CEO is conducting a baseline survey of local companies to gather concerns, impacts, actions, and “best practices on business operations and personnel dynamics.”

“Then we’re going to respond to some of those challenges. Some of those things have already been taking place … workforce challenges; companies having layoffs but also companies looking to hire and making those connections directly between those workers and those companies so that people can get back to work and fill that current demand for those essential workforce industries,” Andrew Fish, senior VP of business development at CenterState CEO, said in his remarks on the topic during the briefing.

The survey results, combined with information from direct contact with CenterState CEO and MACNY members, will be used to inform policy decisions, develop advocacy priorities, create new programming, catalogue best practices, and identify “common pain points” in the region.

Organizations willing to provide feedback and participate in the survey can do so at https://bit.ly/ceocovidsurvey.