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Local Professor speaks to community about revitalizing Utica

By ALLISON NORLIAN

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Utica may be experiencing an upward growth trend in the near future and according to Alex Thomas, the Director of Utica Center for Small Cities at Utica College, the revitalization and positive growth started years ago.

Thomas spoke at The Other Side on Genesee Street in Utica on Wednesday night, about his research centers findings and what it means for the community. Thomas said since the year 2000 Utica has been on an upward growth trend and will probably continue over the next 10 years.

"That population growth in Utica is because immigrant groups come to the various cities," he said. "Utica added close to 1,500 people between 2000 and 2010. It was the best showing in the census since the 1970 census."

Utica has stabilized over the last decade, lessening the amount of people leaving the city and increasing the population and people who stay for the long haul. Thomas mentioned speaker and theorist, Richard Florida, who recently gained popularity in Utica, when he preached his ideas on the creative class at The Stanley. Thomas said in regards to Florida's ideas, "We're going to talk about on one hand the benefits of that kind of a strategy but try to be more holistic in our approach. Certainly we'd be interested in the creative class but we want to look at all the various options."

What he believes is truly going to grow the city is Nano Utica and high speed rail lines, "The significant investment on the part of the state and private interest in Nano Utica is another potential, a really big game changer for not just the city but the entire region. When you're talking about a project that can theoretically add 6,500 jobs," Thomas also said, "Another thing people don't think about is high speed rail. We did a report looking at high speed reel and the impact it can have not only for Utica but for communities surrounding New York and that can be a game changer as well. The ability for someone to get on a train in downtown Utica and be in the town of Manhattan in two hours or less depending on speed of the train would automatically alter the way we think about economic development."

Thomas' message to the community...to get involved.

 

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