Robert Simpson serves as president of the CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity (CenterState CEO), based in Syracuse, New York. CenterState CEO is an independent and forward- thinking economic development strategist, business leadership organization and chamber of commerce; dedicated to the success of its members and the prosperity of the region.
With strengths in coalition building and strategic planning Mr. Simpson is passionate about being an agent of positive change. Through his work at CenterState CEO he is involved in a number of initiatives to build vibrant and sustainable communities, strengthen the region’s innovation ecosystem, create greater economic opportunity for traditionally un- and underrepresented populations, and advocate for the business community at all levels of government.
In 2011, Mr. Simpson was appointed by the Governor to serve as co-chair of the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council (CNY REDC), a commission responsible for coordinating economic development for Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, and Oswego counties. In this role he has helped lead regional strategies and develop investment priorities for competitive state funding, ultimately securing $844 million for the region – more than any other region in the state – while ensuring a strong track record of success.
Mr. Simpson actively engaged the Brookings Institution to develop the region’s most sophisticated planning efforts to date, including Metropolitan Business, Export, and Foreign Direct Investment plans. He is an adviser to the Brookings Institution as part of the Global Cities Initiative.
Simpson serves in leadership roles across CenterState CEO’s affiliates and partner organizations, including Syracuse’s business incubator, The Tech Garden; the NUAIR Alliance; the CNY International Business Alliance, CenterState CEO’s Foundations, Electronics Park LLC, and Benefit Specialists of NY. He holds board and advisory seats with the CNY Biotech Accelerator, the University Hill Corporation, and the Downtown Committee of Syracuse.
Simpson also serves on numerous community boards, including the Central New York Technology Development Organization, Syracuse 20/20, the Upstate Minority Economic Alliance, and others.
Accolades include 40 UNDER 40 recognition by CNY BizEvents (2006); the Salvation Army’s Community Team Spirit Award (2010); Onondaga Citizens League Citizen of the Year (2010), and Boy Scouts of America Boypower Honoree (2016).
Before joining CenterState CEO, Mr. Simpson worked for Defenders of Wildlife, in Washington, DC; served as policy director for the State Environmental Resource Center, Madison, Wisconsin; and served as assistant legislative director for the Office of John D. Rockefeller, IV, in the United States Senate.
Mr. Simpson is a native Central New Yorker who graduated from Colgate University in 1997. He earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. He and his wife, Corinne Ribble, and son Ben reside in Syracuse.