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November 6, 2013

Veterans and Economic Development: CNY Regional Economic Development Council Progress

Veterans and Economic Development: CNY Regional Economic Development Council Progress

Written by: James Schmeling, Co-founder and Managing Director, IVMF

About two years ago, I wrote a column on regional economic development and veterans. At the time, it was meant to call out what I saw as a lack of attention paid to veterans outside of accessible housing and homelessness, a missed opportunity related to employment and entrepreneurship. Earlier this year I wrote a follow-up column and shared the work that the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) had accomplished related to veteran careers, education, research and entrepreneurship, and demonstrated how more people were paying attention to the incredible resources that veterans bring to the table for the economies in their local areas.

The need remained for more private sector and government engagement with veteran economic development, but it is certainly progressing. I’m now pleased to report that the 2013 progress report for the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) has recently been released and now includes veteran issues. Importantly, this report brings attention to Central New York’s large population of veterans, who make up 9.3% of the state population, compared to 6.3% of the nation as a whole. The CNY REDC progress report includes references to veteran research, employment, entrepreneurship and education related to the region for the first time, and the IVMF’s work with many collaborative partners is highlighted.

Despite this progress, it seems that the region is still struggling to engage recently transitioned veterans as resources and plan for their inclusion in economic development. We’re working hard to change that locally, and to demonstrate it nationally. Our work with Get Skills to Work, an initiative with GE, Alcoa, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin, as well as colleges and universities, focused on translating and building skills learned in service toward skills in advanced manufacturing. Another highlight is the IVMF’s work with the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University to educate disabled veterans and family members in entrepreneurship, and to enable them to create their own jobs and contribute to job creation nationally.

Veterans returning to Central New York are already available resources. And for those who need additional education and training, worth noting is the IVMF’s Veteran Career Transition Program and our other entrepreneurship programs created in conjunction with the Whitman School; our collaboration with the Syracuse VA Medical Center, SUNY-Upstate Medical School, and SUNY-ESF; the Hill Collaboration for Wounded Warrior Research, which focuses on rehabilitative and regenerative engineering, as well as spinal cord injuries, and other work targeted to wounded warriors; and our work on veteran careers with the 100,000 Jobs Mission, a network of over 120 businesses across the nation, including those in Central New York.

The full CNY REDC progress report is available from the CNY REDC website or at

If you’re working to make progress in economic development that includes veterans, I’d love to hear more from you. Send me an email at

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