Over the past year, a lot has changed in Oneida County, including the addition of a new AHL hockey team and a drone testing facility coming to Griffiss Airfield. These are just some of the things Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente spoke about in his State of the County address Tuesday morning. Time Warner Cable News Reporter, Cara Thomas, tells us that while he took time to reflect on the past, Picente also had a a lot to say about the future.
UTICA, N.Y. -- What's the current state of Oneida County? After years of tough decisions, budget cuts, and changes, Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said the county is strong and their future looks even better.
"Oneida County is being talked about not just around the state but around the country and the world," said Picente.
For years, he has been talking about bringing nano-technology to Oneida County. That dream is finally in the works and now it's crucial to prepare the area for its completion. Picente initially announced Vision 2020 in his address last year.
He said, "We have a plan to develop the workforce of the future and accommodate those that are heading our way."
They'll be doubling the amount of internship opportunities for students in the public and private sectors, while also creating learning opportunities for people who have English as their second language.
"One of the things we've heard over and over again about the nano-technology is that they want a diverse workforce. And what they want is for us to take the people who are already here and get those people up at the Marcy site. We can do that," said David Mathis, Co-Chair of the Vision 2020 Committee.
They'll also be encouraging the development of downtown housing for people moving into the area. They hope to have 300 units developed in just five years.
Ferris Betrus, the Housing Committee Chairman for Vision 2020, said, "That housing will probably be attached housing, condos, loft apartments within the cities I think would be the main impetus both in Utica and Rome."
Along with improving the economy, they're also hoping to improve people's health through the Oneida County Total Health Initiative, which Olympic Bronze Medalist Erin Hamlin has agreed to be the honorary chairperson of. The initiative will start with a Wellness program for county employees.
"This program, the first in the Total Health Initiative, will begin by offering smoking cessation programs for interested employees and provide a lunch and learn educational series related to health and chronic disease management," said the county executive.
In his address, Picente also talked about the need for consolidation. The county will continue to offer incentives to municipalities who choose to realign.
He also made a bold proposal, encouraging a merger between MVCC and HCCC. Picente says the schools are only 15 minutes apart and their programs would complement one other.
Picente said he hopes to get these initiatives off the ground in the coming weeks.
WATCH PICENTE'S FULL SPEECH
CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Reflecting on Oneida County's past and future
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