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New York State Sen. Jeremy Cooney, D-Rochester, continued his “Regener8 Cities” tour with roundtable discussion with local stakeholders in Buffalo. Sens. Tim Kennedy, Sean Ryan and Edward Rath co-hosted the panel, along with Cooney – chairman of the Senate’s “Cities 2 Committee,” which featured business, nonprofit and education leaders to discuss issues that impact cities outside of NYC.
Cooney is leading a bipartisan “Regener8 Cities” tour to focus on listening to the experiences of families, educators, business leaders and municipal officials in eight cities: Buffalo, Syracuse, Yonkers, Rochester, Albany, Utica, Binghamton and Plattsburgh. The objective of the tour is to identify new and innovative policy solutions to systemic issues that face families in eight of the largest cities in the state outside of New York City.
The tour will be followed by a legislative agenda dedicated to poverty relief and economic regeneration that will be introduced in the “Cities 2 Committee.” Cooney will host a formal hearing focused on the findings of the “Regener8 Cities” in the State Capitol on Nov. 10.
Cooney, who represents the City of Rochester, was named the first chair of the new “Cities 2 Committee” by Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. He said he is committed to ensuring cities outside NYC – like those on this tour – have access to resources and are part of the statewide conversation on economic development.
Cooney said, “Cities outside of the Big Apple each have unique challenges, but we are united in our desire to grow New York state. The ‘Regener8’ tour is about creating new policy solutions to urban issues that have long gone unaddressed. Just like there are common issues between the five boroughs, there are shared goals and challenges across the eight largest cities outside of NYC. For the first time in years, the State Senate is creating a bipartisan space for these small and mid-sized city voices, which will result in legislative action in the next session.”
Kennedy said, “Under previous leadership, upstate was often overlooked – an afterthought to a heavy downstate agenda. No one can say that’s the case anymore. Since the Democratic majority took control of the Senate under Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, it's clear that all New Yorkers are a priority. As chair of the ‘Cities 2 Committee,’ Sen. Cooney has shown that he stands ready to listen to the problems facing hardworking families and, just as importantly, he stands ready to develop solutions.”
Ryan said, “I’d like to thank Sen. Cooney for organizing this opportunity for leaders in Buffalo and other upstate cities to get together and discuss some of the issues we each face, and to help determine the needs that we all share. Those needs run the gamut, from broadband reliability, to support for refugees and immigrants, to workforce development, to investment in education and child care. The cities of upstate New York have a symbiotic relationship with one another; we all grow together, and none of us can truly thrive alone. By working together, we can begin to identify common solutions while recognizing the unique character of each of our communities.”
Rath said, “Thank you to Chairman Cooney for hosting today’s ‘Cities 2 Committee’ roundtable in Buffalo and other meetings across the state to engage with upstate city stakeholders and hear directly from local community leaders. I am hopeful that the ‘Cities 2 Committee’ will take action on several of the important issues raised today. In particular, I am eager to assist in creating policies that prioritize funding, improve workforce readiness, and career pipelines to ensure that no New Yorkers are left behind.”
Stewart-Cousins said, “It is clear that cities outside of NYC have unique needs. That’s why I created the ‘Cities 2 Committee’ earlier this year and appointed Sen. Cooney as chair. These roundtables are just the beginning of much-needed opportunities for Sen. Cooney and his committee to hear the needs of these cities and help to find innovative and collaborative ways to address them. Together, we will build a future where all New Yorkers can thrive.”
New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials Executive Director Peter Baynes said, “NYCOM applauds Sen. Cooney for leading a bipartisan effort to address the economic development challenges and opportunities in all of New York’s cities. Cities serve as the economic centers of their regions, and they can achieve their potential only with a true state partner. The ‘Regener8 Cities’ tour has the potential to jumpstart that partnership, and NYCOM looks forward to working with Sen. Cooney and his colleagues to convert the tour’s roundtable discussions into legislation that strengthens and empowers New York’s cities.”