On January 3rd I wrote a post here titled 5 Wishes For Syracuse & Central New York In 2012. Only one of those wishes came to fruition, that being the opening of Destiny USA (they keep changing the name on me), and it does look much better than I had thought it would. It’s also much bigger feeling than I was expecting; frankly I’m pretty happy about it, even though it was still a horrid place to be during the two weeks before and the last week after Christmas.

IMAG1690I haven’t given up on having dreams and wishes for Central New York and the Syracuse area though; who me, not have dreams and wishes? I’m not sure how anyone else will view these, as they’re not going to look like last year’s dreams, but I’m not a one trick pony either. So, let’s look at my top 5 wishes for 2013 in Central New York:

1. The city of Syracuse needs to figure out how to market itself and the region better. When I leave the state and tell people where I’m from, they know two things about this area. One is snow, the other is the basketball team. Sometimes that’s enough for me because it means we’re on the map, but this city is so much more than that. Unlike 2011, when the women’s national bowling championships were here, this year’s major local event was the visit of the Dalai Lama, a very significant event to be sure but it was more of a Syracuse University event initially, which means parts of it was closed to the general public; not quite local promotion. We have to promote ourselves better.

2. Is the city headed towards bankruptcy? Mayor Miner thinks so, although some other sources don’t believe is. In any case the finances of the city and surrounding areas don’t look good. I love that the governor has restricted increasing property taxes to only 2% but cities aren’t getting it done financially. And it’s not going to get done by raising penalty fees, parking and other stuff stuff that only discourages people from going into the city or coming to Central New York at all.

We need to renovate decrepit properties and start generating taxes from those areas. We need to find ways to help promote small businesses. We need to solve problems like Shoppingtown Mall and other strip malls. In other words, we have to find ways of generating revenue that aren’t punitive in nature that also help to sustain and encourage growth.

3. We need to find ways to keep talent in Central New York. Back in October the Professional Consultant’s Association of Central New York had a meeting where the speaker was Nasir Ali of Update Venture Connect, talking about Entrepreneurship in the 21st century, especially for Central New York. One of the things he talked about was how a lot of talent comes to Syracuse to get a great education and learn all sorts of things, then takes it elsewhere because they don’t have opportunities or mentors locally to keep them here.

We’re losing some of the best young brains in the country because the university alone can’t keep them here. Companies like Ali’s and things like the Tech Garden and the South Side Innovation Center help, but we need so much more.

IMAG12864. We need a better solution for schools. It’s not only the Syracuse school budget that’s going through major problems. I live in Liverpool, a community where passing school budgets used to be a no-brainer, but now has the same problems everyone else has, which is too many schools for fewer kids, high salaries for some teachers while others aren’t paid enough, the reduction of programs that help teach life to keep things that may or may not be as important (they’re all important but go with me) and some sports programs being cut. There’s even been talk of ending gym class in some schools during a period where children aren’t necessarily getting healthier.

I can’t help with any kind of solution on this one because I have no kids, but in my mind it’s time for some thinking outside the box strategies to get it all done. After all, this is our future we’re talking about.

5. We need more Armory Square’s. When people visit the city and leave, one of the things they invariably talk about when they get back home is Armory Square. Frankly, I never saw this as being what it’s turned out to be 20 years ago and now it could be the blueprint for helping to transform the city and the rest of the area into something special. Who wouldn’t like to see what I call “strip club row” turn into something like Armory Square, which in its own way has a feature close by in Stella’s Diner and if close to not only Destiny USA but the lakefront project?

There are neighborhoods all over the city and suburban areas like Liverpool, Cicero, Mattydale and Camillus just waiting for someone to sling some cash and put it together. Baldwinsville has shown a way to infuse more interest into a downtown area, and it’s a great model for everyone else to take a look at and do something to improve their lot. As I said earlier, this area has lots of promise and could be known for something more than snow, although snow’s not bad.

That’s my wish list; do you have anything to add?

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