COUNTY IN ‘HUNGER GAMES’ FOR $1.5 BILLION IN FUNDING

AllOTSEGO.com EXCLUSIVE

COUNTY IN ‘HUNGER GAMES’

FOR $1.5 BILLION IN FUNDING

COOPERSTOWN – For the past month, four delegates from Otsego County have been part of a six-county task force seeking to win $1/2 billion in state funding, and to do so must out-compete at least four other regions of Upstate New York.

The four representatives are county Rep.Craig Gelbsman, R-Oneonta, who as owner of First Choice Cleaners is also representing small business; Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz, representing municipalities; Sandy Mathes, representing economic development efforts, and Dan Robinson, president/CEO of New York Central Mutual, representing the county’s larger enterprises.

The task force is participating in Governor Cuomo’s version of “The Hunger  Games” – as the Wall Street Journal put it – for part of a three-way split of the governor’s $1.5 billion Upstate Development Fund.    The money is part of a $5 billion settlement in Wall Street wrongdoing.

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Seven of the state’s regional economic development commissions – Long Island, New York City and the Buffalo area are excluded – are trying to come up with the best vision for their region’s future and the best strategies to get there to win the one-time funding.

The effort, independent of but under the umbrella of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Commission, is being led by Alicia Dicks, president/CEO of the Community Foundation of Oneida and Herkimer counties, who is hosting the weekly meetings in Utica.

The program was outlined by Gelsbman, Katz and Mathes in an interview Thursday afternoon.   Several committees have been spun off from the main task force to explore specific topics.  The three were reluctant to get too specific, but nanotechnology, tourism, agriculture and higher education might be logical ones for the Mohawk Valley region that includes Otsego County.

Participating entities have contributed to staffing the undertaking.  Elizabeth Horvath, Otsego Now COO, will be involved in branding the region and in putting together the report due at MVREDC offices by the end of August.  The regional commission will review the report and forward it to Albany by October.

“I’d be very surprised if there wasn’t a decision by the end of the year,” said Mathes.