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Real Estate and Other Data Help to Retain, Attract and Grow Businesses in Onondaga County

SYRACUSE, N.Y., May 7, 2014 – National Grid and local partner organizations today launched a new economic development website that provides critical tools to help retain, grow and attract new businesses to Onondaga County.

Powered through a Geographic Information System (GIS) platform, data provided through the new website, , can be searched, mapped and published, including everything from broad areas down to a specific address. It should prove valuable for commercial property developers and business owners in determining which location in Onondaga County will best suit their needs by identifying relevant geographic and economic advantages that one area or parcel may have over another.

“National Grid is excited to be a part of the launch of a new economic development website to promote Onondaga County as a great place to do business,” said Melanie Littlejohn, National Grid regional executive of Central New York. “The website will help to support the existing National Grid Shovel Ready program, which provides grants for engineering, planning and installation of electric and natural gas infrastructure on new sites for companies. Data from

Shovel Ready is also integrated into the website to provide real-time access to local real estate information. The combined effort of Shovel Ready and GIS technology will help to make locations in Onondaga County even more marketable for economic development.”

National Grid provided crucial project management and brought together key partners to collaborate on the project. These partners include Onondaga County Office of Economic Development, City of Syracuse Department of Neighborhood and Business Development, Downtown Committee of Syracuse, Near Westside Initiative and Connective Corridor.

“With this system, we will be able to market all Onondaga County has to offer more effectively than ever,” said Julie Cerio, director of economic development for Onondaga County. “The collaboration with our economic development partners has created a data-rich, locally focused GIS system.”

The new website uses a GIS to supplement ongoing efforts by partner organizations to promote Onondaga County to new and existing businesses. Although it may seem complicated, a GIS simply integrates hardware, software and data for capturing, managing, analyzing and displaying all forms of geographic reference information.

“The city of Syracuse is proud to be a partner in the development of this new GIS website,” said Ben Walsh, deputy commissioner for business development for the city of Syracuse. “It is a powerful tool that will enhance our collective efforts to effectively market the city of Syracuse and all that makes it an attractive business location.”

Through GIS technology, users will be able to learn key statistics of potential sites, such as demographic, public transit and environmental data, before ever setting foot on a parcel. And, since access to the GIS and the data it provides is free and open to the public, smaller businesses and startups will greatly benefit because this type of site research and selection process in the past may have been too expensive or unavailable.

“The Near Westside Initiative is thrilled to be among the many partners working to create a comprehensive Economic Development GIS system that will allow for a streamlined way for businesses and startups to identify potential properties for them to locate to,” said Maarten Jacobs, director of Near Westside Initiative. “With the recent boom in interest from regional and local businesses to relocate near downtown, this system gives us the perfect opportunity to highlight some of the wonderful properties located just adjacent to downtown in the ever-growing Near Westside.”

Each organization involved in the project provided a unique viewpoint that helped to create a comprehensive picture of economic development opportunities in Syracuse and greater Onondaga County. Over several months, partner organizations worked to determine the most useful information about the region, identify key project sites that might be most attractive to businesses or have existing infrastructure in place, and gather all available commercial real estate information.

“This new platform provides us with a valuable tool to promote downtown’s available real estate,” said Merike Treier, executive director at Downtown Committee of Syracuse Inc. “The ability to map significant amounts of information in such a user-friendly format strengthens our ability to promote and attract new business to Downtown Syracuse.”

GIS is typically used on a state-wide level, but the Onondaga County GIS website will be among the first to utilize the technology for a smaller, regional area. The GIS will streamline information and data on Onondaga County commercial real estate into one source to help community and business leaders conduct research and make local investment decisions.

“The system is a very user-friendly tool to capture and convey sophisticated data about commercial and industrial real estate opportunities,” said Linda Dickerson Hartsock, director of the Connective Corridor at the Syracuse University Office of Community Engagement and Economic Development. “It’s an important asset to help catalyze private sector investment and activate underutilized real estate, particularly in areas primed for development such as the Connective Corridor, through major public infrastructure investment. We’re grateful to National Grid and Onondaga County for leading the collaboration that spearheaded this project and know that it will be an important addition to the economic development and community revitalization tool kit.”

About Connective Corridor

The Connective Corridor is a collaboration between Syracuse University, the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County focused on sustainability, smart growth and creative place-making. The Corridor is creating new urban spaces and complete streetscapes with networks of green infrastructure, bike and pedestrian paths, and a free public transportation system, as well as public art. It also catalyzes initiatives around art, culture, technology and civic entrepreneurship through a model that reinforces the university’s core mission of teaching and research. The collaboration was recently recognized through the U.S. Green Building Council’s Global Leadership Award.

About Downtown Committee of Syracuse, Inc.

The Downtown Committee of Syracuse, Inc. is a private, not-for-profit, professional downtown management organization representing all property owners and tenants within the central business district. The Downtown Committee undertakes programs to improve downtown's image, strengthen its economic base, increase its attractiveness, and assure that it's clean, safe and accessible. For more information, visit .

About National Grid

National Grid (LSE: NG; NYSE:NGG) is an electricity and gas company that connects consumers to energy sources through its networks. The company is at the heart of one of the greatest challenges facing our society - to create new, sustainable energy solutions for the future and developing an energy system that underpins economic prosperity in the 21st century. National Grid holds a vital position at the center of the energy system and it ‘joins everything up’.

In the northeast US, we connect more than seven million gas and electric customers to vital energy sources, essential for our modern lifestyles. In Great Britain, we run the gas and electricity systems that our society is built on, delivering gas and electricity across the country. 

National Grid delivers electricity to approximately 3.3 million customers in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. It is the largest distributor of natural gas in northeastern U.S., serving approximately 3.4 million customers in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

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About Near Westside Initiative

The Syracuse Art, Literacy, Technology (SALT) District of the Near Westside is directed by the Near Westside Initiative Inc. (NWSI), a not-for-profit organization. Syracuse University and The Gifford Foundation jump started this initiative. SU School of Architecture’s UPSTATE, the Syracuse Center of Excellence and Home HeadQuarters play pivotal roles in the project.

The NWSI leverages the resources of SU, the state, the city, private foundations, businesses, not-for-profit corporations and neighborhood residents to achieve its goals. A creative community is converging here to foster economic development, jobs and stability for the neighborhood and rich academic experiences for SU students. Within this neighborhood, the premise that art and culture can unite to create a revitalized community is being tested and is proving to be true.