Banker: No need to wait for an economic home run
To the Editor: Baseball fans like me savor August. It’s the heart of the baseball season, and we study the sports pages each morning to see who is likely to make the playoffs. As I’ve been watching the pennant races shape up, it occurs to me that they offer a lesson related to economic development in our community. Fans of the New York Yankees have plenty of reasons to smile. As of Wednesday, the Bronx Bombers have more wins than any other team in the American League and are leading their division. The Yankees lead all of baseball in total home runs, which for many people are the most exciting part of the game. over in the National League, fans of New York’s other Major League Baseball team are not so happy. The Mets trail far behind the Washington Nationals, the parent club of our Syracuse Chiefs. The Nationals have an even better winning percentage than the Yankees. They have won more games than any other team in baseball, but rank 13th in home runs. Home runs are great, but baseball fans know that they aren’t essential to being a winner. In fact, teams can’t afford to have too many home run hitters on their roster. from Babe Ruth to Alex Rodriguez, the players who are hired to swing for the fences are also the ones who strike out the most. There’s a lesson in baseball for our community’s approach to economic development. After two decades of job losses from downsizing at Carrier, Lockheed Martin and other major employers, many people have hoped for a walk-off grand slam – a single project or big idea that will transform our regional economy overnight. While that would be great, it’s not the only way to win. Consider a few local success stories – some big hits that together are forming a rally to turn things around. The downtown Landmark Theatre renovations represent a $16 million investment in the community. since it reopened in November 2011, the theater has attracted dozens of concerts and theatrical productions that previously passed Syracuse by. The $74 million Upstate Cancer Center project, expected to open next year, has benefited the region’s economy by providing 300 construction jobs. Once complete, the five-story facility will help to attract new medical specialists and support staff, strengthening a nationally recognized program that draws patients from outside our region for state-of-the-art cancer care. The construction of the new Marriott Hotel in Armory Square is a more than $30 million investment, bringing100 permanent jobs and 100 construction jobs. The hotel is projected to accommodate more than 90,000 guests per year and will help bring more meeting and convention business to downtown. Plans to develop the Inner Harbor are moving forward, with the Syracuse Common Council approving COR Development’s $350 million project. The former industrial channel shooting off of Onondaga Lake will become a Syracuse destination, featuring a mix of residential, retail, recreation and education opportunities. St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center is in the midst of a $220 million expansion — the largest project in the hospital’s 140-year history. it includes a new emergency services building, intensive care unit, operating rooms, private patient rooms and a data center. The expansion represents 400 long-term construction jobs and 150 new health care jobs, helping to create a healthier economy. together, these projects are making a difference in our community. The latest state Labor Department figures, released Tuesday, showed a slight decline in total employment in Central New York, but that was preceded by months of job movement in the right direction. many economic indicators, including recent increases in M&T Bank loans to small businesses and residential mortgage customers, suggest that the pace of growth may be improving. Walk-off home runs are exciting, and we can all root for them to happen. But we should also celebrate and support the many less visible efforts by educational institutions, health care organizations and small businesses to expand and offer new services. In the global economy, as in baseball, these singles, doubles and home runs all add up to help Central New York to succeed. Stephen J. Gorczynski, CPA, is administrative vice president for Commercial Banking at M&T Bank in Syracuse.