September 9, 2019

Picente Announces New Economic Development Initiative

News Photo

Innovation Collective Will Grow Local High Tech Entrepreneurship

UTICA — Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. today announced a new economic development initiative aimed at accelerating and growing the local high tech entrepreneurship ecosystem through innovation and collaboration.

County Executive Picente was joined at the thINCubator in Utica by Mohawk Valley Community College Vice President of Community Development Frank DuRoss, Founder/Chairman of Upstate Venture Connect Martin Babinec and various stakeholders to welcome the Innovation Collective to Oneida County as the group prepares to kick off a series of public events later this month.

“With traditional means of economic development already revitalizing downtown Utica and establishing Rome as a global hub for UAS and cyber security research and development, adding the Innovation Collective’s unique model for accelerating organic business growth into the mix will take Oneida County to the next level,” County Executive Picente said. “I look forward to working together to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of our residents and unlock the full potential of our community.”

The Innovation Collective is an organization based in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho that helps communities stimulate economic development through a bottom up approach that starts with connecting entrepreneurs to the community resources needed to support them. This is accomplished through a multi-year campaign of programs and software designed to inspire people, foster new businesses and unlock millions in investments.

It will begin its process in Oneida County with a series of public events that consist of story-telling nights, idea-sharing sessions, weekend-long mentoring summits and a technology festival that highlights the work that people within the community are focused on. The organization plans to convene think tanks, offer mentoring sessions with representatives of Fortune 500 companies and create co-working spaces. The Innovation Collective will also work with county government to pass laws that facilitate research and development and create a unique branding opportunity for the community.

“When I traveled to Coeur d'Alene and saw first-hand how the Innovation Collective has transformed that community I was truly amazed,” said DuRoss, who also serves as Executive Director of the MVCC Foundation. “I immediately wanted to bring the collaborative sessions I experienced there into Oneida County and have our community see the same explosion of start-up businesses and injection of investment dollars.”

Representatives from the Innovation Collective came to the Utica-area last fall and winter to assess the current economic environment and understand what resources are currently making a difference. They found that Oneida County was ripe for growth and devised a $350,000 yearly action plan that will be funded through the MVCC Foundation with support from Oneida County and a consortium of private sector individuals and organizations. More than half of the needed funds have already been committed and today’s announcement officially launches the capital campaign for the consortium of sponsors to close the remaining funding gap.

“Since 2010, non-profit Upstate Venture Connect has been scaling up a network that helps entrepreneurs get connected to resources they need to start and grow companies in the newer industries,” Babinec said. “With more than 17,000 people now part of UVC’s network, we’ve seen many examples of how communities can plug in and help young companies – which is key to retaining talent in the community instead of losing job creators and our most marketable talent leaving to start or join companies elsewhere. My in-depth exposure to Innovation Collective made me a believer that their process is unique and now proven with game changing results. Both UVC and my UpVentures Capital fund are committed as partners in supporting IC’s launch in Utica.”

Since the Innovation Collective’s launch in 2014, its unlocked $57 million in new investments, helped launch over 50 new LLCs, encouraged new education programs and inspired more than 15,000 program participants.

In its flagship city of Coeur d’Alene, there are now more tech companies per capita than any other city in Idaho. In addition to Utica, the organization is also currently establishing presences in Yakima, Washington; Reno, Nevada and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“Utica is one of those gems in the world where the people, leadership, technology and history have all converged at the perfect moment,” said Chris Cochran, Global Director of Communities for the Innovation Collective. “The Innovation Collective playbook will inspire, educate, and engage the people of Utica to begin building the future, right here in the Mohawk Valley.”

The first public Innovative Collective event will be a fireside chat on Sept. 25 at the thINCubator in Utica. For more information on the Innovation Collective, please visit

Oneida County Partners