Partnering with local CEO

SUNY Oswego graduate student Alex Klatsky got to lend a hand to a project that could lead to positive changes for the Syracuse and Central New York area.

Klatsky was part of the team working on a metropolitan business plan at CenterState CEO, a business leadership and economic development organization in Syracuse. CenterState CEO paired with the Brookings Institution to create the business plan for the region.

CenterState CEO and the Brookings Institution are working to develop a plan to improve employment, income and education levels in central New York, an area that consists of 12 counties and stretches from Herkimer to Seneca Falls.

The Brookings Institution helps create a business plan for only a few cities each year, choosing Syracuse, Los Angeles and Indianapolis, among others, for its annual cycle. Previously, the institute worked with Seattle, Minneapolis, Baltimore and Chicago, said Mitchell Patterson, managing director for the emerging-business portfolio at CenterState.

“They come in and sit down with the city, its partners and private companies and basically do a big analysis on all the assets of the region,” Patterson explained. “Then we figure out what the main topics are that we want to focus on to have a positive impact of the region.”

The metropolitan business plan focuses on different ways to improve aspects of the regional economy through analyzing the different assets of the region, Patterson said.

“A lot of the project is research and seeing what needs to be changed, then acquiring funding to put the changes into action,” Klatsky said.

Reseach opportunities

Klatsky’s research in human capital focuses on analyzing what types of people live in CNY, where they live and how that affects the economy.

“It’s my hometown, I grew up in the area, so I’ve seen some of the problems the city is having, It’s a big plus to be able to work on something that has the potential to fix that.”

“The main goal is to have a positive impact on the local economy,” Patterson said. “When the business plan is done, we’ll pick what we want to focus on, then Brookings and the federal government will come in to raise money and hopefully create an enterprise that will help the economy grow.”

Klatsky has a special connection to the project – it’s where he grew up.  

“It’s my hometown, I grew up in the area, so I’ve seen some of the problems the city is having,” he said. “It’s a big plus to be able to work on something that has the potential to fix that.”

Klatsky is part of the team Patterson works with to finish the metropolitan business plan.

“It’s a fun project, but it’s a long project that takes time away from our regular jobs,” Patterson said. “Having Alex around doing the research saved us so much time, it’s very helpful to have people like him on board to help out.”

Patterson can only speak positively of Klatsky’s work.

“He was great. He always did what he said and more,” Patterson said. “If we needed an extra hand, he could always switch modes to help out with something else.”

Klatsky was able to work on the project by being awarded a Festa Fellowship for February to April for the spring 2012 semester.

“It allowed me to do something I was interested in and gave me the work experience and networking connections in the area I wouldn’t have had otherwise,” he said.

Individual attention

Klatsky came to SUNY Oswego for his master’s degree after completing his undergraduate education at SUNY Binghamton. It was the involved faculty and students that kept him at Oswego.

“At Binghamton, since it’s so big, I never really talked to my advisers,” he said. “I was really impressed with the level of advisement and involvement from the faculty and students. There’s always people to talk to.”

It was through a faculty member, then-MBA director Tammie Sullivan, that Klatsky heard about the opportunity to work with CenterState CEO and applied for the Festa Fellowship.

“She thought it would be a good fit for me and suggested I apply for it,” Klatsky said. “I couldn’t have afforded the job without the fellowship.”

With his MBA degree in hand, he hopes to find a full-time position similar to his role at CenterState CEO.

“I’m hoping to do something similar to what I’m doing now, research in economic development and economic analysis,” he said.