Do more with less. Get everyone involved. From the opening remarks of Mayor Bob Duffy and County Executive Maggie Brooks, to Gov. David Paterson’s closing remarks, it was clear that these were the calls to action for our entire community.
This year’s Eyes on the Future economic summit encouraged each individual, from students to community leaders and business professionals, to take away one action that they could immediately implement in their daily lives to improve the economic outlook and overall quality of life throughout the region. Leaders like Dennis Mullen, the recently appointed upstate president of Empire State Development Corp., recognize the uncertain circumstances of the present economy but suggest that we remain focused on the positive assets of our community. "We have been challenged to withstand these tough times," Mullen commented, "and lead the region with a focused vision and a collaborative spirit."
Like a homework assignment for every citizen across the nine-county region, Eyes on the Future provided clear tasks for everyone to participate in positioning the Rochester region for resurgence.
First, get involved. For example, the United Way of Greater Rochester Inc.’s Web site, www.liveunitedrochester.org, makes it easy to find an area of an interest for a company or an individual to volunteer time, talents and resources. Another organization, the Small Business Council of Rochester, rallies our local companies and citizens to give back to the community this Thanksgiving season through donating dinner baskets to those in need.
Second, become an ambassador for the Rochester region and spread the word that you are proud to live, work and play in the area. Help create positive awareness by sharing the many attributes, rather than emphasizing what might be lacking. For business owners, find a way to make the Rochester region your business. Hire one more person next year, create an internship for local high school and college students, and review your vendor list to replace at least one out-of-town vendor with a local one. For employees and business professionals, commit to a cause and look for opportunities to work connectively through all of the existing networks in the region, from associations and professional societies to the online forums of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
With more than 19 colleges and more than 20 high schools in the Rochester region, thousands of students will play a significant role in shaping the future of the economy and community. Students should seek internship and work-study opportunities, while building partnerships with local businesses and alumni throughout the area.
Despite the economic troubles nationwide, the Rochester region offers a particularly competitive outlook. In a recent issue of Forbes, health care and education were cited among the fastest-growing industries. In our region, education and health care services comprise our economy’s largest employment market thanks to the abundance of quality educational institutions and medical research, a highly skilled work force and a constant drive toward innovation. Most importantly, while we each have an individual responsibility to contribute to the larger economic efforts for our region, it’s important that we remain committed to a common cause of collaboration.
More than just an annual event, Eyes on the Future is about the everyday approach that each of us needs to adopt to look any situation in the face and cultivate a community and an economy where everyone wins.
Mark Peterson is interim president of Greater Rochester Enterprise Inc. and Thomas Ioele is event chairman of Eyes on the Future 2008 and president and CEO of Employee Relations Associates Inc.
11/14/08 (C) Rochester Business Journal