Chris Suozzi is a native New Yorker who has committed his career to growing the Western New York region by attracting businesses to New York as Vice President of the Genesee County Economic Development Center.
Mr. Suozzi is a member of the Genesee Community College Class of 1984; he studied liberal arts with a focus on math and science. Mr. Suozzi was recently inducted into the College’s Alumni Hall of Fame, a recognition in part for his close work between Genesee Community College to develop new programs in conjunction with the local economy, including a new Supply Chain Management concentration.
In his work with economic development, Mr. Suozzi has been instrumental in attracting new development to Genesee County, including Alpina Foods and Muller Quaker Dairy. The University/Industry Partnerships that Mr. Suozzi has worked to build between Genesee Community College and its community will be strengthened next year as START-UP NY launches statewide.
1. How did you get involved with business and economics?
Growing up in Batavia, NY my brothers and sister were exposed to business and economics at a young age. We always seemed to have a business during our youth from our first lemonade stand, to selling my grandfather’s garlic, to selling live bait! In my teen years, I basically ran a small ice company’s production. I always had a job. Ultimately, I choose a field that had business and engineering – Industrial Engineering – but my passion has always been in the business side.
2. Where did you see your future before you started college, and how is that different than where you are today?
I always picture myself in business as an entrepreneur. I spent a lot of time and energy to follow that career. Ultimately, it prepared me for my position in economic development.
3. What is a typical day like for you as Vice President of the Genesee County Economic Development Center?
Here is the abbreviated version… My role is business development. Typically, I have meeting with business owners on their upcoming projects. First, I listen to them intensely, then assist them with incentives and programs from our “tool box” (state, local and regional programs). Also, I spend a great deal of time with our marketing team at the state, regional and local level, attend trade shows and visit site selectors to drive new business to the area. In addition, I am on several local boards to include Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and Genesee Community College Business School.
4. What do you see is the role of Genesee Community College in Genesee County’s economic development?
I see a HUGE role for Genesee Community College. The number one concern for companies is workforce development. Genesee County Economic Development has aligned our targeted strategic industries (Agri-Business, Life Science/Medical Device and Advance Manufacturing) with Genesee Community College. We need to continue to collaborate and listen to our companies and stay in front of their needs. Genesee Community College is critical to our county and regional success.
5. Overall, how did your college education help prepare you for life and your career?
Education opens doors to jobs and gave me my personal intellectual property to be effective throughout my career.
6. What advice do you have to share with SUNY students?
First, in my opinion, SUNY provides the best value in the United States. It is a powerful, diversified, low cost higher education system that is second to none. My advice to students is to work backwards…..Start with what jobs are available and projected in the area you want to live. Then figure out what it takes to get there. This will give you your optimal return on your educational investment.
Maxwell is the Coordinator of Digital Engagement for The State University of New York.