Maxwell scholars partner on effort to grow Syracuse’s new economy

Syracuse CityMaxwell School scholars are partners in a project aimed at urban revitalization and positioning the City of Syracuse as a leader in the “smart” sector of the new economy – industries that use technology to drive economic growth and productivity.

The JPMorgan Chase Advancing Cities Initiative is working in the context of Syracuse Surge, a $200 million strategy to redevelop underserved neighborhoods and bring new tech jobs into the city. Syracuse Surge includes the installation of a 5G network, a countywide STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) school, and expanded vocational and business development opportunities.

In addition to Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, “Challenge Team” partners include the City of Syracuse, Onondaga County, Le Moyne College, and the Allyn Foundation. Syracuse’s winning proposal outlined local coalitions of elected, business, and nonprofit leaders working together to address economic challenges, such as employment barriers, financial insecurity, and neighborhood disinvestment. 

Equity and inclusion are major goals of the Advancing Cities Initiative in Syracuse. We “understand that this economic growth will not translate into economic opportunity for all local residents without intentional investments and partnerships with business and nonprofit actors,” the City of Syracuse said in a news release.

The $3 million grant supports plans to kickstart Syracuse’s tech sector, train workers for 21st century careers, and ensure that racial and ethnic minorities, women, and veterans benefit from investments in local economic development. It will be used for strategic planning, workforce training, small business development, and programming.

Maxwell’s role evaluating the program highlights the school’s commitment to applied policy research that can assist local governments. Maxwell researchers are focused on documenting how the project generates meaningful internal and external systems changes and meets goals with respect to the number of people trained, small businesses attracted to the area, and equity and inclusion.

“Understanding how programs successfully develop the technology sector while meeting equity and inclusion goals is fundamental for urban revitalization and success in the modern economy,” said Associate Dean Andrew London. “This is real-time, real-world research. Maxwell experts expect their evaluation will yield lessons that can be synthesized with findings from the other Advancing Cities sites and applied in other contexts.”

JPMorgan Chase selected Syracuse as one of the first five cities in its Advancing Cities Initiative. The competition drew 250 proposals from 143 communities. Several more rounds are planned.

“This is an exciting opportunity. Syracuse was selected because it is a small city that has pulled together a consortium of public, nonprofit, and private entities—including city and county government leaders—to strategically invest in an equitable and inclusive technology workforce and small business development,” London said.