Saturday, January 9, 2010

Collaborations in season

This week the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce (I am on its board of directors) and the Metropolitan Development Association (Community General Hospital is an MDA member) announced their merger “to build the most effective organization to promote business in Central New York.”

The Chamber and the MDA have worked on the merger for some months, following authorization by their boards to study and plan the process. The combined organization will be the largest economic development entity in Upstate New York.

A lot of credit for this goes to Darlene Kerr, Chamber president, and to Robert Simpson, MDA president. Months ago they put aside parochial interests to launch the affiliation discussions. Merger planning was by an 11-member committee under the leadership of former Syracuse University Chancellor Kenneth Shaw, MDA board chair, and Mary Ann Tyszko, president of SRC Tec, Inc., who chairs the Chamber board.

This initiative of the Chamber and MDA is a model of civic-minded, community planning.

llaborations, it seems, are in season.

As the Chamber board reviewed the merger plan last week, I looked across the table at fellow Chamber board member Dr. Paul Kronenberg, president of Crouse Hospital. Crouse Hospital, of course, is the prospective merger partner of Community General Hospital, as we announced last fall.

As of year-end, Dr. Kronenberg and I were able to report
that the hospital boards had approved a memorandum of understanding that permits us to hire legal counsel, along with experts in hospital merger planning. We have started the planning process that will put flesh on the bones of our merger concept. Crouse and Community have jointly hired Nixon Peabody LLC as transaction counsel and Alvarez and Marsal as feasibility consultants. I sent a memo about this to members of the CGH family.

With the announcement by the Chamber and MDA, the Post-Standard is already discussing the potential for consolidating economic development programs operated by the City of Syracuse and the County of Onondaga.

More than a decade ago, I chaired a consolidation committee for the Private Industry Council that resulted in the formation of CNY Works, an organization that combines and coordinates services to train and assist job seekers that were once operated separately by city and county governments. Many of us hoped that CNY Works would point the way to other combinations of government functions in the interests of efficiency and effectiveness. . . but such combinations have been painfully slow to develop.

The Chamber and the MDA are coming together. Crouse and Community are planning a merger. Is it too much to hope these examples might help inspire new interest in consolidating the functions of local governments?

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