New York State Study Tour & Presentations


As part of the EDA Study Tour Scholarship Program, Dr. Ian Martinus, Manager Advocacy and Economic Development at the City of Wanneroo in Western Australian successfully applied for, and visited North America in September 2017 to pursue professional development activities.

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is the world’s largest professional body with over 5000 members, mainly from North America, servicing economic development practitioners with professional development and advocacy services.

Prior to the September 2017 Scholarship Trip, Dr. Martinus also separately attended the annual IEDC Federal Forum in March 2017. The Federal Forum was of particular use as it gave the recipient great
insight into the strategic motivations, program delivery highlights and budget formulation with respect to state and local government economic development initiatives. At the time, the newly formed Trump Administration was also going through early consultation and formulation of new economic development programs and assistance.

Dr. Martinus presented on Tuesday September 12, 2017 at the Economic Development Association Canada (EDAC) National Conference as part of the EDAC/IEDC/EDA global panel. The topic was ‘Managing the Relationship: The Historic Canada/ US/Australia Bond.

The purpose and intent of the New York State Study Tour and IEDC/EDAC conference attendance were as follows:

“I intend to observe how economic development practitioners and their partner networks work together to create environments conducive to attracting policy, budget, and business community support for  their research-supported trials, testing and prototyping and their speed to market. Of interest is the navigation around or through roadblocks that turn economic development strategies and action plans into onground opportunities and quality outcomes. As detailed below, I intend to observe how research, development and demonstration projects can accelerate innovation in the fields of clean energy, the built environment, and positively contribute to net regional exports. Of particular interest are industry collaboration, how research opportunities are evaluated and formed and the need for a committed industry partner or pipeline of funding.”

A very special thanks to Tracy Verrier, Executive Director of the Cayuga County Chamber of Commerce for organising and coordinating all of the study tour meetings and background information and introductions to her network.


The opportunity to hear from other global economic developers cannot be underestimated. Engaging in active dialogue and discussion regarding topics such as Indigenous employment and their startup  venture self-determination and the impact of Industry 4.0 are crucial and relevant for ED professional development.

A deep dive into digital technology applications and their positive transformation of government services gave insight into ‘real world’ smart cities applications. Case studies of small and medium sized manufacturers investing in software, supply chain tools and new equipment gave evidence of the positive benefits of automation and process improvement requirements in business.

The masterful use of data (in Australia this is provided by a number of paid services such as REMPLAN, Forecast ID, Geografia et. al) to better identify trends and to allow the practitioner to take the lead on youth programs, workforce retention, investment attraction and micro-business assistance provided relevant global applications. Within the North American context, a strong current focus of policy and program (formation and delivery) is the empowerment of youth entrepreneurs and local youth retention efforts and novel investment platforms that allow government to partner with the local start-ups (such as student investment funds). One stand out example at the IEDC Conference was a visit to the Ryerson University DMZ Incubator and Zone that boasts strong deliverables including over 300 businesses incubated and accelerated with nearly $400M in funding raised for the start-ups and close to 300 jobs created since 2010.


It is worth adding commentary on the mad scramble from the majority of North American economic development practitioners their boards of management, associated agencies such as chambers of  commerce and commercial ED enterprises to organise their bid to attract the next Amazon headquarters to their regions.

An August 2017 email from Jeff Bezos, the Amazon CEO announcing that Amazon would require a site of 1,000,000 square feet that would eventually house up to 50,000 mostly white collar workers earning $100,000 (USD) per year sent the ED profession into a frenzy.

Formal bids were due in late October 2017, and the IEDC Chairperson, Michael Langley informed me (at the EDA National Conference in Ballarat) that, most IEDC members would be submitting regional bids where their local government area jurisdictions needed to join forces for the purposes of scaling to suit the Amazon request.

According to IEDC, the successful region would have to demonstrate access to an international airport, a population catchment of approximately one million people, be an area of high amenity (lifestyle, education, activity centres), and have a highly educated workforce living in close proximityto the mega-campus.

It is believed that of the approximately 55 regions submitting bids, that only 16 will pass the first test of complying with Amazon’s minimum requirements. According to the IEDC, the Amazon opportunity is tough for economic developers to not invest time and resources in, even when the likelihood of success is almost zero for the majority of bids.

With the disruption of Amazon Web Services being launched on the global stage in 2018, many regions in North America began formulating forward plans on how to interact with the Amazon HQ2 ‘supply chain’ through strategies and new tactics, rather than focus on the components of the bid itself.


Visit with the Executive Director Tompkins County Area Development (September 14) Michael Stamm. Topics discussed:

  • Community infrastructure investments to attract private investment – The strength of the various public/private board structures add tremendous weight and influence to advocacy
    for major developments. A lot of time spent on relationships (read: private developers, Cornell University, local municipality place-makers) allows careful manoeuvring of prioritised opportunities in the areas of: higher education, tech-inspired micro manufacturing, software, mobile and tech-enabled service company support, agriculture and tourism,
  • How to use political influence to articulate policy positions on ED issues – particularly with red-tape reduction and transitioning workforce competency,
  • How to respond to specific state and federal opportunities where ‘shovel-ready’ needs strong alignment and board agreement,
  • How to position regional economies to embrace ‘waves’ of restructuring activities and subsequent re-organising of capital flows. (60,000 private sector jobs in 2013 – service providing jobs account for 93% of employment in Tompkins County). Higher education in the region is the dominant sector and employer and;
  • How to achieve a balanced ‘energy mix’ of renewable and traditional energy sources while aiming to maintain a ‘calm’ debate that balances local jobs with environmental preservations.

As appears to be universal phenomena, the relationship between headcount, budget and areas of attention need to be carefully balanced for meaningful impact. Tompkins Area Development
is mindful of this and spends a great deal of time in the advocacy space, making connections at the state and federal levels of government to deliver on their strategic intentions.


Visit with the Associate Director of Partner Programs Syracuse University Centre of Excellence (September 13) Tamara Rosanio

Topics discussed:

The economic impact (direct company investment), indirect and induced regarding being a regional and global market leader in areas of:

  1. Clean energy (research and development and deployment – RD&D)
  2. Syracuse ‘Lab to Market; Market to Lab’ research and innovation program. With a primary focus on environmental and energy systems, the practical elements of the R&D provide ‘live and real time’ demonstrations of building functions and features (such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning, ventilation – HVAC innovations) that attract further funding and commercial opportunities with local and global interest). The green building movement (as a global growth sector) affords industry, government and university collaborations.
  3. The ‘live’ examples demonstrated the value of research opportunities that aim to provide practical solutions to local and national challenges and the subsequent export opportunities. The ‘partner’ network and construction of lasting and mutually beneficial relationships relies heavily on human and capital resource commitments (medium term) from all partners


Visit with the Centerstate CEO New York (September 15) Steven King Director Central New York International Business Alliance; Michael Novakowski Director of Business Development; Andrew Fish Senior Vice President, Business Development.

Incorporating Unmanned Airborne Vehicle (UAV) research emanating from the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance in Syracuse, the meeting was dominated by the global opportunity afforded New York State to become the world leader in creating the international standards (ISO equivalent) for the drone industry.

As part of the ‘Central NY Rising’ Upstate revitalisation initiative blueprint to grow the local economy and C21 jobs (knowledge intensive jobs), the August 2016 $5m announcement to support and grow the  emerging Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) will possibly lead the way in designing and managing unmanned aerial traffic management infrastructure. The payday would likely come in the form of manufacturing, testing, prototyping and engineering services in the first instance. The economic developers working within this space are already mapping supply chain advantages over the short and medium term as the emerging market matures and the supply chain forms.

The deliberate strategy of positioning the region as the unmanned aircraft industry hub allows the rapid development and deployment of first generation traffic management systems, delivery systems, national security, government monitoring and commercial (retail supply chain) applications.

The broader lesson for outer metropolitan areas of Australia is the opportunity to create links between relevant research partners, suitable geography and location and testing programs.

The research interest to outer metropolitan Australian local government (2016 population rates of approximately 5m residents as reported by National Growth Areas Alliance NGAA) was the following: creation of active and vibrant activity centres; local supply chain opportunities regarding manufacturing, high-tech, healthcare, retail and tourism/hospitality attraction and activation strategies by the local government and industry bodies.


There is an immediate opportunity for Australian economic developers to play an active role in new technology application (Smart Cities) testing and deployment. The efficacy of encouraging innovation districts, clean energy trials within both new and legacy suburbs, and how to incorporate micro-grids and novel infrastructure adaptations that require land, local workforce and emerging technologies can incubate local talent and new jobs.

The focus of this study tour was specific and deliberate. The opportunity to deeply interact with new economy employment initiatives (e.g. clean technology, digital applications, advanced manufacturing and technical supply chains) and projects requiring partner assembly and execution demonstrated how value can be created and then replicated (exported).

The move toward competitive regional advantages and bespoke activity is a welcome move in the direction of activity centres of differentiation and specialty and not simply ‘metoo’ lookalike centres. Further investigations and examples reinforcing the value of specialisation will allow local economic developers to execute ‘sharper’ and customised strategies that focus on their specific competitive advantages. To
be vanilla is to be destined to predictable local economy outcomes within the traded (internally lead) economy.

One of the drivers (IEDC Federal Forum Washington DC April 2017) carried over into this study tour and conference attendance and was worth repeating with respect to economic development being integral to place-making.

  • Business Improvement Areas (BIA) was a 1970s world first incarnation in Toronto, Canada where businesses actually requested to be part of a voluntary tax to improve and revitalise neighbourhoods. Bloor West Village businesses saw sales volumes increase 40- 70%.
  • Economic studies in many US municipalities show that higher density mixed use of between 2-5 storeys return higher rates and taxes to LGAs.
  • Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (Michigan) – inviting entrepreneurs and business to their (refreshed) version of public/private/not-forprofit (they call it triple p) of revitalisation. Incorporation of a ‘dot org’ group allows them access to public funds. They have also funded studies supporting the notion and evidence of increased economic impact when wage (and ethnic) equalisation occurs in a community.

The central question was raised ‘Why people love living somewhere’. The push is for creative place making that provides an economic (direct + indirect) return. Beautification is used as an investment attraction tool.

The reinvigoration of local manufacturing utilising local skills base was interesting to observe, and the federal government support for technology, innovation, small business funding and export development.

The strong message at the state and federal levels to trumpet local jobs and local vitality was received loud and clear and the opportunities within downtowns and outer metropolitan urban areas was also interesting to observe.