Experts have gathered in Syracuse for two days to discuss the state of Upstate. YNN's Bill Carey says as the meetings begin, the future of the region remains a question mark.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- It's the story of Upstate New York, found along a short stretch of roadway off Carrier Circle. Here, a massive factory that once provided thousands of jobs is now just a skeleton being slowly dismantled, leaving something of a small ghost town behind. Businesses that had depended on the workers here are also gone.
Not far from the ruble of what was, experts were meeting discussing what will be. The main message is that the region should not be looking back.
"I think there's every reason to expect that Upstate New York could develop a very deep set of high paying jobs, but they're going to be based on information technology, not on heavy manufacturing," said David Brown of Cornell University.
The people here, representing a wide range of specialties, say tapping into the educational resources of the state is key in developing new jobs. There is also close attention being paid to the drive to consolidate government, a step toward creating a more competitive state.
"I think what we have is a system that was built for a lot more people than we have today. We certainly have lost population across Upstate New York. Some communities more than others. But the old forms of government still exist," said John Sipple of Cornell University.
Just as important as turning the economy around may be changing the mindset of those who live in the region. After years of bad news, many have deep doubts about the future and that has damaged the region's image.
"If people have a negative perception of the region, it's very hard to either attract them or to retain them," Brown said.
The experts say this is really just a first step. They're collecting information now to find out where Upstate is at. Two years from now they'll meet again, reviewing what progress has been made and trying to figure out what programs worked. And what steps are needed to reverse Upstate's fortunes.