SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — It’s been one year since Micron became a household name in Central New York.
“It’s one of the most magical and exciting moments, I think, hopefully in this community’s history,” said CenterState CEO’s Rob Simpson.
He said: “I hear increasingly from people who tell me: ‘Hey, my son or daughter is moving back.’ or ‘My grandchild is going to stay in Upstate New York.’ These are things for my entire career we never heard before.”
Around the one-year anniversary of Micron’s historic promise, NewsChannel 9 sat down with three leaders who were on stage for the announcement in October 2022.
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon and Simpson all have a lot to say when asked how things have changed in Central New York. Each also has solutions to the challenges ahead.
Some of the most important parts of the project, so far, have more to do with filing paperwork than construction.
Micron has formally applied for critical incentives from the Federal Governor’s CHIPS and Science Act. The company also requested tax breaks from the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency, paying $26 million just to submit it. Both requests are being considered.
More in view of the public, site work is happening at the White Pine Commerce Park, including specific studies on how the mega campus will impact the neighborhood.
McMahon said, “Those environmental reviews will answer a lot of people’s questions: What traffic improvements will be made? When they’ll be made?”
Also, this week, the Micron Community Engagement Committee will have its second meeting. The group has been formed to establish a list of community priorities as a guide to spend $500 million.
“One of the important things that I really loved about (Micron’s) CHIPS application,” said County Executive McMahon, “…with the Micron investment and jobs that will come with it, from construction, from supply chain, from growth in the community, based off many metrics, childhood poverty rates in this community are going to decrease 22%, which is astronomical.”
It’s a projection that will have to be verified when the time comes.
Before then, the community is responsible for filling 50,000 jobs between Micron and its supply chain companies.
“We are going to have to welcome new people to this community,” said Mayor Walsh, “We can’t just do it with our existing population.” But, he says the city’s priority “is how we ensue that we maximize the benefit for those here today, especially as it relates to populations that have been historically left behind on projects like this.”
Before you can have the workforce, they need the housing.
The leaders describe a modern vision of what housing looks like in the community. It’s not just urban sprawl of massive neighborhoods. It’s some new single-family homes on small lots, two-family homes, apartments in Downtown Syracuse and Onondaga County’s village centers, and new lifestyle communities like plans for ShoppingTown and Great Northern Malls.
“It’s got to be all of the above,” said McMahon. “We’re seeing a lot of market-rate. We’re seeing a lot of affordable, some mixed-use, some mixed-income.”
Another focus of the leaders, but not yet the companies building the homes is senior housing.
“One of the things we really got to drive home to the developers, we need quality senior housing. Not senior housing when you need assisted living. Senior housing options like you have in Florida,” said McMahon, talking about higher-end retirement communities within walkable developments with activities.
Simpson said, “The reality is that we are going to need to add around 2,000 to 2,500 units of housing every year for the next 20 years. That’s overwhelming.”
Right now, the number is around 700, which is three-to-four times less.
It’s one of the hurdles that have some skeptics not believing it until they see it.
“Just watch,” said Simpson.