Dinner with the Neighbors

Dan Gundersen, Upstate Chair of the Empire State Development Corporation, didn't hesitate yesterday when I asked him what surprised him most when he started his job in Upstate New York last year.

He visited Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and many other communities. They all had the same general economic challenges, worries, and needs. Yet, Gundersen noted, the cities failed to work together toward significant change, choosing instead to battle one another in Albany for their fair shares.

Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy agrees. Not so long ago, he likened the situation to a large family scrambling over a small amount of food.

Now enter Governor Eliot Spitzer carrying a big bag of groceries -- and suddenly regional cooperation doesn't seem so hard.

In the middle of Wednesday's State of Upstate speech, Duffy found himself shaking hands with the Mayor of Buffalo, Byron Brown. Spitzer is proposing to give each city more than any mayor had dared hope for. With so much to go around, the cities can eventually build off the strengths of one another, presenting ONE region to the world.

But, as New York Now host Susan Arbetter noted when I chatted with her this morning, there's still a possibility of a food fight in the State Legislature before it's time to get cooking.