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New York State Canal Corridor Initiative

In late 2009, a conversation on the untapped potential and seemingly consistent pattern of related concerns and barriers to economic development identified along New York State‘s canal corridor led to an informal gathering of principal staff from Cornell Cooperative Extension and the New York State Department of Labor as well as numerous representatives of other regional, state, and federal agencies. The meeting was convened by Cornell University‘s Community and Regional Development Institute (CaRDI) and facilitated around a presentation by Dr. Susan Christopherson on legacy assets, phoenix industries, and the canal corridor as the economic and symbolic spine of upstate New York‘s historic strength and innovation.

Out of these observations and conversations was born the idea of undertaking a series of search conferences along the canal corridor in 2010 to bring together a diverse mix of economic, cultural, educational, community, and employment development entities from urban and rural settings across multiple upstate metropolitan regions. Four conferences were held in total between April and December 2010 in Syracuse, Buffalo, Utica, and Ithaca, at which participants were asked to identify regional and meta-regional assets and barriers toward future economic development and clustering, as well as tactical plans to move these efforts forward over both the short- and long-term.

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