Frustrated and betrayed…seems sums up the feeling that too many people have about their government in Washington and Albany.
At the root of that feeling is an abiding sense of disappointment with a two party system invested in perpetuating policy priorities of the special interest donor class and the careers of captive politicians – both Democrats and Republicans.
That feeling of betrayal and frustration has reached a tipping point nationally as evident in the candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.
Despite that, today throughout parts of Utica and the Mohawk Valley, there are some beginning to feel that maybe, just maybe, we are on the brink of better times.
A feeling that the decades long lack of opportunity and disinvestment can be reversed and that hope for the future can be reclaimed. It is a tenuous feeling, a fleeting feeling of a people that have known the disappointment of broken promises and the alienation of neglect.
We are, after all, by nature an optimistic people, so we warily look forward and wait and wait and wait.
We wait knowing that the cold facts tell us a different story. As measured in terms of shrinking small business creation, stagnant wages, expansion of public assistance benefits and the scourge of heroin abuse our region is suffering. And as measured by the empty places at our dinner tables and the occasional long distance calls with our children and grandchildren the quality of our family life is suffering.
As our young people, our sons and daughters are forced to leave the region for jobs they want that don’t exist here – they take with them not just a piece of our hearts, but the keys to our future.
And yet we wait – hoping against hope that better days are ahead.
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that it’s time we stop waiting. Instead, it’s time we seize our own future and create a sustainable, self-determined path to more jobs and opportunity. We have all the ingredients right here – but change must start at its roots.
That is why I am here today to announce a new party line, the Upstate Jobs Party.
Upstate Jobs, it has a nice ring right? Two words we don’t hear together enough.
I’m not a politician – I’m a job creator. Creating jobs is something I know a lot about. I know what it takes to create an innovation environment where Utica, Rome, my hometown of Little Falls and all of upstate can grow more jobs. I know, because I have been doing it.
And that is why I am underwriting an effort to establish a line devoted to the singular issue of creating jobs.
I know the great history of this region, the birthplace of so many technologies and innovations – Sperry Univac, MDS and even further back, Remington Arms. People creating companies here inspired me.
And I know the spirit of the people, because I am one of you – that’s why I moved home from Silicon Valley to Little Falls in 1999. I know what an amazing place our region is, the brains and work ethic of our people as well as what we can accomplish when we work together.
Over the last six years I’ve been on a journey with a non profit I founded and have volunteered – Upstate Venture Connect. Our mission has been to connect first time entrepreneurs in the newer industries with the resources that can help them start and grow their companies.
This includes getting people to look beyond the boundaries of their local area or institution and realize that the community of Upstate is rich with resources that can make a difference.
In that time we’ve been able to grow a network of more than 10,000 supporters, had a hand in engaging hundreds of local business people to become involved as investors in startup companies and equipped many organizations with tools and contacts that help these organizations connect entrepreneurs to the right resources.
This is how we grow jobs, people helping others – but doing that in a very specific way that makes a difference in starting and growing companies Upstate.
‘We aren’t waiting for government to lead. Instead, we are taking action – and the Upstate Jobs party is that next step.
It’s not just a ballot line, but a movement that makes it possible for all of us to participate in the effort to grow good paying jobs Upstate with the assets we have right here.
Today there are thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs in our region – I know it, because I work with them everyday. They need nurturing, they need guidance – they need to connect with other successful entrepreneurs and they need a less hostile regulatory environment.
And while we are at it, let’s create the jobs in the innovation industries our children want so that our families can stay together and our Sunday dinners are face-to-face again – instead of FaceTime.
Upstate Jobs – let’s make it a reality. Let’s get this Party started!