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The Tech Garden

Annual Meeting: Robust Civic Engagement & Shared Vision Drives Growth

CenterState CEO’s Annual Meeting explored the theme of “Break Through,” and how businesses and communities can surmount challenges and seize opportunities with a bolder vision for the future.

The premier gathering of the region’s business and civic leaders featured a keynote address from Kate Adams, senior vice president and general counsel at Honeywell. Adams shared her perspective and experience leading Honeywell’s Onondaga Lake restoration efforts, for which she has had responsibility since joining the company in 2003. When Honeywell embarked on the lake effort, it adopted a strategic vision to embrace sound science, community-oriented decision making and foster a positive collaborative relationship with regulators to come up with smart solutions.

Keynote speaker Kate Adams of Honeywell discusses the Onondaga Lake cleanup and the partnerships that made it possible.

“[We] knew that fighting was not a winning strategy and was inconsistent with our commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Adams. “We decided to set aside our differences, build on our expertise and not to focus on the obstacles, but on the goal.”

The Onondaga Lake cleanup effort—at one point one of the community’s most daunting challenges—served as a model of a breakthrough moment, and what can be achieved when perceived deficits are re-envision as assets and when stakeholders come together around a common goal.

CenterState CEO President Rob Simpson calls on attendees to break through the region’s critical issues saying we must do better.

Attendees network prior to the CenterState CEO Annual Meeting and Business of the Year Awards.

CenterState CEO President Robert Simpson called on those in attendance to confront critical issues by reframing challenges into attainable opportunities and establishing a shared, long-term vision for the future.

To read CenterState CEO’s 2017 Annual Report, visit


Visit the CenterState CEO YouTube Channel to watch speeches by Simpson, Adams and other videos from the event.

“Right now our community is faced with several tough decisions that require collaboration, vision and action,” said Simpson. “And yet, we know we can achieve great things in the face of obstacles and negativity because we have done so before. We can look to models like the restoration of Onondaga Lake, the revival happening in downtown Syracuse, the renovations of Hotel Syracuse and the establishment of a fully funded Say Yes program, to not only learn how to craft a path forward but to be reminded of what can be achieved when we engage in robust civic discourse and collaborate effectively.”

More than 1,000 business and community leaders attended the meeting held at the Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center at Oncenter, in Syracuse. CenterState CEO’s Business of the Year Award winners in five categories were also announced, along with the CenterState CEO Civic Leadership Award. See details here.