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Otsego Now Gets It,

NY Experts Declare

Developers Need Rail Access,

Shovel-Ready Sites, Panel Says

Northern Eagle Beverage President George Allen, host of today’s Otsego Now’s annual meeting, welcomes the 50 attendees. The subsequent panel included, at front table from left, MVREDC Executive Director Mike Reese, Fulton-Montgomery Community College President Dustin Swanger, Empire State Development Corp. VP Jerry Janiszewski, and state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford.  To Allen’s left is Devin Morgan, Otsego Now board chair.  In the foreground are, at left, Fox Hospital President Jeff Joyner and Community Bank Vice President Jeff Lord and, at right, county Rep. Craig Gelbsman, R-Oneonta.  (Jim Kevlin/The Freeman’s Journal)

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Otsego Now CEO Sandy Mathes moderates the panel, which underlined all the economic development agency is doing right.

ONEONTA – Otsego Now has been on the right track, a panel of top state economic-development experts reported the county IDA’s annual meeting at Northern Eagle Beverage this morning.

Jeff Janiszewski, Empire State Development Corp. senior vice president/strategic business development, was asked, in light of plans to redevelop the D&H yards, how common are manufacturers who need rail shipping.  Not a lot, he said, but “when it’s required, it’s really required,” and there are few such available development sites in the state.

When county Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, asked about the importance of “shovel ready sites” – such a site is being developed for a distribution center in Oberacker’s district – Janiszewski responded, Otsego County “lost out time after time after time, because you didn’t have locations prepared for development.”

The good news, he said, is that industrial site-selectors are approaching him, looking for spots on Interstate 88, and the Schenevus site – the SEQR review is just beginning – may be a tempting one for selectors seeking “product,” as shovel-ready sites are called in the business.

In response to a question from Oneonta Superintendent of Schools Joe Yelich, the president of Fulton-Montgomery Community College, Dr. Justin Swanger, said, if asked, he would convene an all-day meeting locally – inviting Broome and Mohawk Valley community colleges as well – to explore how they might fill Otsego County’s job-training needs.

Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz asks what state programs might be available to redevelop Doubleday Field and surrounding acreage. Seated, from left, are Oneonta city Finance Director Meg Hungerford, Otsego Now counsel Kurt Schulte, county Rep. Andrew Marietta, R-Cooperstown/Town of Otsego, and Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig. (Jim Kevlin/

In response to Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz’s question, Mike Reese, Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Commission executive director, mentioned a number of state programs that may help with development around Doubleday Field, which will mark its 100th anniversary in 2019.

Housing is also a problem in Fulton-Montgomery, Swanger said:  Single-family homes are available, but young workers and empty nesters are looking for condo living, preferably close to community centers, and there’s none of that.

In response to a question from Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig about Upstate success stories, Janiszewski mentioned Schenectady’s downtown revival.  “More and more,” he said, “communities are judged by the state of their urban centers,” adding, “there’s no future in being the suburb of a blighted community.”

At one point, Swanger observed most people say they want economic development, noting wryly: “We want things to be different.  We just don’t want them to change.”



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