President Obama’s four big asks and their role in the Rochester region 

 At the start of his final State of the Union address, President Barack Obama posed four big challenges aimed at a future far beyond the horizon of his own administration: 

  1. Enable all to get a fair shot at opportunity and security in the new economy
  2. Make technology work for people
  3. Keep the world safe without becoming the world’s police 
  4. Elevate politics to reflect the Nation at its best

Here in Rochester we possess every opportunity to contribute to these efforts. In 2016, the region rallies for a second year behind the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative joined by Pathways to Prosperity — a major component of the Finger Lakes region economic development plan. In the City of Rochester, Mayor Lovely Warren and her administration advance efforts to foster more engaged community policing models to create more livable neighborhoods for the city’s residents, businesses and families.  

The Finger Lakes region — recently validated with its $500 million win in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Upstate Revitalization Initaitive — moves forward as an economic engine for both the state as well as the country. Powered by a Federally-funded institute for manufacturing in photonics, the Finger Lakes region remains resilient as it continues to navigate a post-Kodak economy. Coupled with middle-skills job training at institutions such as Monroe Community College, photonics, imaging and optics hold massive potential to energize the Rochester-area workforce for generations to come. 

As the Rochester region reflects on an ISIL-related threat from New Year’s Eve, it’s reminded of the global and widespread nature of contemporary adversaries to the United States. The area and its citizens must remain vigilant while also seeking proactive opportunities to strengthen relationships with diverse parts of the world, including countries with refugees impacted by regular rounds of brutality and violence from terrorist organizations. As a community, the Rochester region must uphold a legacy that includes stepping up to open its doors to people in need from all corners of the globe. 

Lastly, the Rochester region is ripe for political renewal. Just a few weeks into her first term, Monroe County Executive Cheryl DiNolfo commenced her leadership by announcing the dissolution of the controversial Local Development Corporations (LDCs) as well as a legislative proposal for an Office of Public Integrity to heighten the area’s oversight on ethics and good governance. And despite few shifts to the political landscape from local elections in 2015, a repeat race for New York’s 25th U.S. congressional district between Town of Gates Supervisor Mark Assini and long-time incumbent Representative Louise Slaughter — joined this time by Brandon Kirshner, an independent — promises to provide ample opportunity in 2016 for the public to examine issues of regional, national and international importance. 

Together, these focal points and their relationship to President Obama’s overarching charge to the Nation form the foundation for a region and a city in major transformation. Today, the state of the Rochester region — a region still very much in recovery — remains strong. As the Rochester and Finger Lakes region moves forward, may it keep in mind the bold and courageous words of Susan B. Anthony: “Failure is impossible.”  

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One Comment Add yours

  1. If Obama knows one thing, it is how to talk

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