Syracuse: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Syracuse is a major commercial, industrial, and transportation center for the Northeast. The economy is highly diversified; this enabled the city to weather a recession in 2001. While manufacturing remains significant to the local market, the service industry is experiencing record growth. Sub-sectors leading the trend include call centers, finance, education services and retail trade.

Syracuse has been recognized as an excellent place to work and live; its Cost of Doing Business Index is sixth-lowest in the nation at 87.7 (a score of 100 is average), and Expansion Management magazine listed Syracuse among the country's top 50 cities for business relocation and expansion. Recent studies indicate Syracuse is leading the state in job growth.

Items and goods produced: automotive components, air conditioning and heating equipment, medical instruments, pharmaceuticals, military electronics, specialty metals, telecommunication devices

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

A range of state, county and municipal programs are available to new and expanding businesses in the Syracuse area.

Local programs

The City of Syracuse offers tax exemptions and permanent low-cost financing, loans up to $10,000 for high-risk startups and $50,000 for specific projects, and regulatory or technical assistance. The Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce provides a variety of services from business startup advice to government lobbying. The Chamber also manages the Greater Syracuse Business Development Corporation, a private, not-for-profit organization that provides financial assistance to new and expanding businesses. The Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency has invested more than $1 billion on 190 projects since 1970, creating or retaining nearly 30,000 jobs in the region. Its municipal counterpart, the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency, finances manufacturing, research, commercial, industrial or pollution control projects within city limits. The Urban Business Opportunity Center provides entrepreneurial training and loans up to $10,000 for women- and minority-owned small businesses in financial need. Syracuse Technology Garden is a newcomer to the field of economic development and acts as an incubator for high-tech startups. Successful applicants receive mentorship and networking, access to venture capital, and state-of-the-art office space. The Samuel W. Williams, Jr. Business Center has provided similar incubator services to small business since 1986; more than two dozen local companies call it home.

State programs

The State of New York offers financing for new or expanding businesses to acquire land or capital, improve infrastructure, increase exports, or enhance productivity. Various incentives include loans and grants, interest rate subsidies, and low cost utilities. New York State's Empire Zone program provides special assistance to companies relocating or expanding in specific areas; two of the state's Empire Zones are found in the Syracuse region. Successful applicants in an Empire Zone may pay no state sales taxes for 10 years and can also receive wage tax or investment tax credits. The Central New York Enterprise Development Fund supports small manufacturing and service companies by providing working capital and fixed asset loans up to $100,000; commercial loan guarantees for up to $160,000 are also available. The New York Job Development Authority provides funding to local economic development agencies for re-lending.

Job training programs

New York's Empire State Development Corporation provides up to half the cost of a work-force training project, reimbursement for training programs that create or retain at least 300 jobs, and opportunities for on-the-job training in new skills and technologies. The Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency provides matching grants up to $12,500 to train production or first-line supervisory staff. CNY Works is a federally-funded organization that arranges educational programs for incumbent, underemployed and unemployed workers. Onondaga Community College works with local employers to develop specialized training programs to meet specific needs. Dozens of local universities, colleges, vocational and technical schools offer training in a variety of professional disciplines.

Development Projects

A groundbreaking ceremony was held in June 2005 for the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems headquarters, a $25.5 million project designed to create jobs and promote investment in the Central New York region. The 60,000-square-foot facility is expected to open in spring 2007. Syracuse University (SU) will renovate the former Dunk & Bright warehouse at Armory Square into a multi-use space; plans call for community art gallery, auditorium and classroom space. SU has also announced plans to build a three mile "Connective Corridor" linking the campus with downtown's entertainment, arts and cultural venues; $4.5 million in public and private funding has been committed. University Hospital is expected to complete a $35 million children's hospital in 2006. Crouse Hospital is in the planning stages for a new $30 million operating room suite. The $3.25 million Syracuse Technology Garden, a business incubator for high-tech startups, was completed in 2004. Syracuse Research Corp. is undergoing a $1.3 million, 16,000-square-foot expansion of headquarters in order to employ 65 new engineers. The Inner Harbor project, adapting the old barge canal terminal for recreational use, remains in the planning stages.

Economic Development Information: Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, 572 Salina St., Syracuse, NY 13202-3320; telephone (315)470-1800; fax (315)471-8545

Commercial Shipping

Syracuse's strategic central location and well developed transportation network, including road, water, rail, and air services, make it a distribution hub for the Northeast. More than 50 percent of U.S. and Canadian manufacturing establishments are located within a 750-mile radius. Syracuse is located at the junction of two major interstate highways, east/west I-90 and north/south I-81. More than 150 trucking companies service the area, including the top 12 general freight carriers in the nation. CSX provides direct rail service to a number of Northeastern markets with more than 70 trains per week. Six major air freight companies operate out of Syracuse Hancock International Airport, as well as a variety of regional carriers. The Port of Oswego and the New York Barge Canal system provide water access to the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Hudson River. The Syracuse area is a foreign trade zone.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Greater Syracuse offers a pool of educated, productive and affordable employees. Although Syracuse's employment rate is growing faster than any other city in upstate New York, approximately 75,000 qualified workers have been identified as underemployed, representing a large selection of potential hires. Over the next few years Syracuse is expected to transition from a manufacturing center to a services and knowledge-based economy.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Syracuse metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 317,900

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 12,300

manufacturing: 33,100

trade, transportation and utilities: 64,800

information: 7,000

financial activities: 17,300

professional and business services: 33,800

educational and health services: 53,400

leisure and hospitality: 26,400

other services: 12,600

government: 56,800

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $17.29 (statewide, 2004)

Unemployment rate: 4.6% (April 2005)

Syracuse: Economy

Largest employers Number of employees
SUNY Upstate Medical University 6,305
Syracuse University 4,640
Wegmans 3,775
New Process Gear Inc. 3,400
St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center 3,365
P & C Food Markets 2,500
Lockheed Martin 2,300
Crouse Hospital 2,200
Loretto 2,115
Niagara Mohawk A National Grid Co. 2,010

Cost of Living

Parenting Magazine lists Syracuse among the nation's top 10 small cities in which to raise a child, based on affordable housing, a strong economy, good schools, low crime, and a clean environment. The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors in the Syracuse area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $230,914

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 96.3 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: 4%–6.85%

State sales tax rate: 4%

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 4%

Property tax rate: $34.836 per $1,000 of assessment

Economic Information: New York State Department of Labor, 677 S. Salina Street, Syracuse, NY 13202; telephone (315)479-3390