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Knowledge Worker,

Not Industry, Is Our

Future, Speaker Says

Cleinman Wins Seward’s Support

To Launch ‘Come Home’ Campaign

If Boise, Idaho, and Bozeman, Mont., could create vibrant economies based on knowledge workers, so can Oneonta, business consultant Al Cleinman told today’s Workforce Summit at The Otesaga. (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Senator Seward said he would support Cleinman’s “Come Home” initiative, and expand it to include “Stay Home.”

COOPERSTOWN – After a rousing salute to “knowledge-based industry,” a local businessman with a national clientele, Al Cleinman, today announced he intends to lead a “Come Home to Oneonta” campaign.

Cleinman was addressing the Workforce Summit at The Otesaga, where attendees learned we have more jobs than people.  The day was organized by the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce and the office of state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, who immediately warmed up to Cleinman’s idea.

The idea is to lure back some of the 75,000 living Hartwick College and SUNY Oneonta graduates – executives, consultants, business owners and tech employees who can work anywhere – to reposition the local economy.

“The future is knowledge-based industry,” Cleinman declared. “The future is not industry.”

Principal in Cleinman Performance Partners, a national consultant to optometrists, the consultant said he is approaching local business and political leaders about the campaign to “bring your business here; bring your family here; bring your work here.”

Milford Superintendent of Schools Mark Place told the Workforce Summit his district’s recruitment efforts have been successful by establishing positive differentiation through such steps as 27 days off a year right from the start, and a sliding scale that ensures nobody pays more than 20 percent of their income on benefits.

In his closing remarks as the Summit would up at mid-afternoon, Seward said the “Come Home” campaign should also include a “Stay Home” component, educating local people that they don’t have to go elsewhere to get good jobs or build careers.

The senator said he and the chamber will form a “steering committee” to get behind Cleinman’s idea.

For his part, Cleinman said, “We have this incredible resource – the universities.”

He estimated there are some 75,000 alumni out there who “know what we have,” many of whom would be delighted to relive their happy college experiences here.

The first key to a successful campaign would be to get the colleges to agree to share their alumni databases with the “Come Home to Oneonta” effort, to enable a comprehensive direct-mail push.

Susan Green of Paperkite, the Cooperstown social media firm, told the Summit that company culture is important in attracting and keeping good people. Paperkite offers such bennies as Clark Sports Center memberships and yoga classes.

A second goal would be to raise a $1 million “venture capital fund” to help returnees reestablish their businesses and professions locally.

Through his consultancy, Cleinman has criss-crossed the country, he said.  “I’ve seen what goes on.  I’ve seen the Boise, Idahos, and the Bozeman, Montanas – little sleepy towns in the middle of nowhere that have sprung to life” by promoting the knowledge sector.

What they have in common is ingenuity, educational resources, money and quality of life.  “We have them all in Otsego County,” he said.  “What better place to live than in this amazing county.”


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