Ukraine live briefing: Russia takes U.N. Security Council presidency; calls mount for release of U.S. reporter     Mexican military accused of hindering probe of 43 missing students     Moscow hadn’t accused a U.S. reporter of spying since the Cold War — until this week     Ukraine live briefing: Russia takes U.N. Security Council presidency; calls mount for release of U.S. reporter     Mexican military accused of hindering probe of 43 missing students     Moscow hadn’t accused a U.S. reporter of spying since the Cold War — until this week     Andrew Tate and brother released from jail, put under house arrest      Ukraine live briefing: ‘Let him go,’ Biden says of U.S. reporter detained in Russia     Arresting U.S. journalist, Kremlin ruthlessly pursues wartime aims     Ukraine live briefing: Russia takes U.N. Security Council presidency; calls mount for release of U.S. reporter     Mexican military accused of hindering probe of 43 missing students     Moscow hadn’t accused a U.S. reporter of spying since the Cold War — until this week     Ukraine live briefing: Russia takes U.N. Security Council presidency; calls mount for release of U.S. reporter     Mexican military accused of hindering probe of 43 missing students     Moscow hadn’t accused a U.S. reporter of spying since the Cold War — until this week     Andrew Tate and brother released from jail, put under house arrest      Ukraine live briefing: ‘Let him go,’ Biden says of U.S. reporter detained in Russia     Arresting U.S. journalist, Kremlin ruthlessly pursues wartime aims     

News of Otsego County

Al Cleinman

CLEINMAN: Oneonta Must Build


100 Units Will Buoy

Business Downtown

By AL CLEINMAN • Special to

Al Cleinman is founder & president of Oneonta-based Cleinman Performance Partners, a nationally consultancy that advises optometrists on best business practices.

Of late, social media and other community forums have been full of dialogue about the initiatives in downtown Oneonta.  Why do we need this housing?  Why the rebranding?  Why artist lofts? Why not somewhere else?  What about parking?

While comments many are supportive of these initiatives, the majority of comments appear to be an emotional response, perhaps the result of a lack of understanding of the strategic issues facing our community.

As a 35-plus-year resident of the City of Oneonta, a significant employer of professionals, a landlord, entrepreneur and a highly traveled business adviser, perhaps I can shed some light on the “whys” behind these important initiatives?

Let’s take a look at just a few facts:

  • Otsego County is losing population.
  • Oneonta’s tax burden is funded by less than 50 percent of our properties.
  • We lack housing that’s attractive to professionals and families.
  • Our downtown is in decline.

It appears that many do not recognize that our community has a serious lack of quality housing. Our housing stock is old and tired, the result of a combination of 50-plus years of converting center-city homes to student housing, a lack of available in-city development land and general economic decline.

And with a downtown that’s seen an exodus of retail, this makes for significant challenges in recruiting and retaining professional employees; and keeping our youth. Quality market-appropriate housing is the foundation of a community’s success.

We all must understand that ours is a competitive world.  As a community, we are competing for tax dollars, population and business activity with thousands of other communities.

One must ask why we have +/-1,500 new young people arrive in our city each year … and more than 1,500 leave.  Our youth is leaving for lack of opportunity.  They go elsewhere because other cities have a better competitive profile than Oneonta.  And as with anything else, “to the victor, go the spoils.”  This is irrefutable fact.

My business, as that of others in our area, has open positions that we struggle to fill.  Attracting qualified employees in an era of full employment is a significant competitive challenge.  Doing so when we lack infrastructure exacerbates the challenge.

Young professionals and families are seeking housing in city centers and neighborhoods to be close to stores, restaurants and services.  They seek vibrancy and energy.  Competitively speaking, Oneonta is behind on this front.

And yet, our area is full of natural resources: the arts and humanities, great schools and colleges, excellent health care and wonderful restaurants that are attractive to this desired population (youth).  That’s why the state has chosen Oneonta to receive million$ in grant money.  We have “good bones.”  But we must take some important and bold actions to realize the opportunities before us.

As a result of the initiatives undertaken by the state and our city, we are now attracting private investment to our community. It seems that developers like Chip Klugo and Ken Kearney have more faith in Oneonta than many of our citizens.

Over the next couple of years, we will see over 100 new housing units built in downtown Oneonta.  This initiative is huge, and these investments will inject much-needed revenue into our downtown restaurants and retail establishments.  They’ll attract tenants who will deliver renewed energy to our community.  And these initiatives will result in further investment.  Success breeds success!

New housing, a reconstructed parking garage, a new transit hub, artist lofts, Hartwick’s Center for Craft Food & Beverage and other initiatives are absolutely mission critical to our community.  We must overcome our population exodus!  We must turn around our growing tax burdens!  We must keep and re-attract our youth!  Investors will find our city as a result.  The time for Oneonta’s renewal is NOW!

Every Oneonta citizen should give thanks to our elected officials for having the vision and for making the energy investment necessary to attract these grants and developers.  They see our community as having significant opportunity for growth and prosperity.

All of us should be supporting these initiatives and work together to overcome the relatively minor issues (like parking) that arise when development takes hold.  Indeed, wouldn’t it be nice to have a parking problem in downtown Oneonta?  Wouldn’t that be a wonderful challenge to overcome?

Let’s get behind these initiatives and figure out solutions.  Let’s not be a roadblock to the long-term competitive success of our community.  Let’s send positive vibes into cyberspace so that others see us as a desirable destination, not one full of vitriol and negativity.

Thank you to Mayor Gary Herzig, Senator Jim Seward, our Common Council and our city employees for your leadership and hard work.

Otsego Has Jobs; No One To Do Them


Otsego Has Jobs;

No One To Do Them

However, Workforce Training $$,

‘Knowledge Economy’ Offer Hope

Chris Chase, president of Directive, the Oneonta technology company, contributes in a breakout session on attracting “knowledge workers” at today’s Workforce Summit. He is flanked by Directive’s Kristen Velasco, left, and Kerri Green, new president of Commerce Chenango, the chamber or commerce there. (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Madhuril Kommareddi, new director of the Cuomo Administration’s Office of Workforce Development, reports on a “historic” $176 million allocation.

ONEONTA  – Otsego County has more jobs than workers to do them.

That message surfaced from a number of presenters at today’s Pathways to Prosperity, the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce’s second annual Workforce Summit at SUNY Oneonta’s Morris Hall:

  • Madhuril Kommareddi, Governor Cuomo’s new Workforce Development director, appointed in May, reported the Upstate unemployment rate is 3.8 percent – 4 percent is considered “full employment.” With that in mind, she said, the focus needs to be on “employer-driven skills,” training people for specific skills for jobs that aren’t being filled.
  • “There are a lot of jobs to fill, and not a lot of candidates to fill them,” said Perry Dewey, DCMO BOCES superintendent, who served on a panel with two other BOCES’ superintendents, Nick Savin and Sandra Sherwood. Within 25 miles of Sidney, Dewey reported, there are 800 available jobs, and 20 percent of workers are due to retire within five years.
  • “Our challenge now is our low unemployment rate,” echoed Christian Harris, the state Department of Labor’s market analyst for Otsego County. He also reported that the number of jobs available in the county has dropped from 26,000 to 22,000, although economist now view the county as a “job growth” area.

County’s Future: Knowledge Workers


County’s Future:

Knowledge Workers

By AL CLEINMAN • Special to

Editor’s Note: Alan Cleinman is the founder and CEO of Cleinman Performance Partners, an Oneonta based consultancy serving North America’s eye care industry. He chose to “come home to Otsego.”

By 1830, following one of the largest land-development experiments in our young nation’s history, William Cooper had attracted over 50,000 people to Otsego County.  It took him only 40 years to accomplish that feat!

Al Cleinman

Since then, Otsego County has experienced the opposite in terms of population growth; During the ensuing 188 years we’ve managed to attract just 8,700 more souls to our oasis.  And we’re currently smack-dab in the midst of a population contraction.  Over 2000 people have abandoned our county since 2010!

What does this mean for the rest of us?  Forgetting increases in government spending and inflation, the population decline results in annual increases in our INDIVIDUAL tax burden!  Year in; year out.  This tax-burden increase is not sustainable!

As a businessman, I’ve been trained to look beyond symptoms to uncover the solution to a problem or opportunity.  While our population decline is not unique to our area, what may be unique is that the solution lies right under our nose.

Our area enjoys a myriad of amazing assets.  In addition to our breath-taking natural beauty and our world-class cultural resources, we are blessed with nationally recognized educational institutions.  SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College produce about 1300 graduates each year.  Most of them leave our area to seek their fortunes elsewhere.  These institutions now have over 87,000 alumni scattered around the globe.  Many of our institution’s graduates have gone on to become successful by every measurement.  Unfortunately, the vast majority make their contributions elsewhere. It’s time to change that.

As I began last year, I call upon our leaders to engage in a “Come Home to Otsego” campaign.  Gone are the days when there exists a significant return on development investment by recruiting hard asset-based companies and manufacturing jobs. Our areas future lies with the knowledge economy, which now employs 50% of our workforce.  Knowledge industries are those which are based on the intensive use of technology and human capital, including education, consulting, finance, insurance, health service, and communications.  As important as manufacturing is to our economy, our future lies not in producing widgets, but in exporting knowledge.  Knowledge industries make a difference in the world while consuming exponentially fewer natural resources than does manufacturing; perfect for an area blessed with natural beauty.

As the leader of a nationally prominent consulting firm with headquarters in downtown Oneonta, I know first-hand the impact of this segment of the economy.  Our knowledge firm enjoys a 30-year history of improving the lives of our stakeholders, whether client, employee or community.  A decade ago, we were the recipient of a $30,000 façade grant from the City of Oneonta and a $100,000 loan (paid-off early) from what was then our county’s Industrial Development Agency (now Otsego 2000). These funds were used to expand our facility in downtown Oneonta.  In the midst of the deepest recession in history, the funds allowed us to expand our employment, and our business.  A decade later, that small investment has turned into over $3,400,000 in additional community investment; increased payroll, tax payments, local services and support for local charities.  That small grant has delivered a direct return to the area of more than 100 times the investment!

Our county’s development challenge is one of focus.  We have 87,000 alumni and 1300 annual graduates who know the attributes of our area.  They have fond memories of their times in the county.    Many now have businesses that can be moved and investments to be made.  Based on national statistics, over 4000 of them work from home.  Why not do so in Otsego County?

Let’s develop an organized and focused approach to the development of a knowledge economy.  Let’s redirect our limited development dollars from attempting to attract heavy industry and focus on attracting entrepreneurs to develop and bring their knowledge businesses to Otsego County.  Let’s work to attract and develop the kinds of businesses that are environmentally friendly; those that will provide opportunity for our graduating students?

I’m committed to making a difference.  During 2020, our small firm will increase our employment by 10% by hiring SUNY or Hartwick graduates.  It is my intention to provide them with opportunity right here in Otsego County; to convince them to stay.  I call on my fellow business and institutional leaders to do the same.  I ask our political leaders to work to execute a focused campaign that will reconnect our institutions’ alumni with our area and assist our local firms with providing employment opportunities to those 1300 graduates who walk away each and every year.  Let’s keep them here!

The result of retaining even 1% of our local institutions’ graduates will deliver millions of needed dollars to our economy.  These individuals will one-day buy or build homes, fill our schools and our restaurants.  They’ll drive our economy to higher ground.  They represent the answer to a challenging circumstance.

We can accomplish this goal through a variety of initiatives, all focused on developing the opportunity “up the hill”.  Why not:

  • Develop and execute Entrepreneurial Business Plan Contests with capital support for business students to develop new retail concepts that can be tested in our now empty downtown store fronts.
  • Develop incubator and venture capital support for entrepreneurial initiatives that are willing to locate to or within our county.
  • Execute communication campaigns in collaboration with our educational institutions to attract our alumni back to our area.
  • Develop focused support to attract knowledge-based businesses.

Knowledge workers today represent almost 50% of our economy.  Otsego County is not realizing its share.  Let’s get focused on knowledge-based business development.  The answer to our population and tax-burden challenges lies right under our nose.



‘Celebration Of Local Musicians’ Going Public In Oneonta Aug. 4

‘Celebration Of Local Musicians’

Going Public In Oneonta Aug. 4

The Blues Maneuver, specializing in Motown and blues, will be among the performers when a “Celebration of Local Musicians” goes public Aug. 4 in Oneonta’s Maple Street Park.

ONEONTA – Al Cleinman is taking the “Celebration of Local Musicians” public.

The music festival, held in Cleinman’s backyard in 2016 and 2018, will be re-launched as a public event 1-8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 4, at Maple Street Park, at the end of Maple Street near Bugbee School.

Knowledge The Key To Business Longevity, Cleinman Asserts

Cleinman Reflects on 30 Years

Knowledge. It’s The Key To

Business Growth, Longevity

Al Cleinman, founder and president, Cleinman Performance Partners, right, accepts a 30-year plaque from Barbara Ann Heegan, president, Otsego County Chamber of Commerce. (Ian Austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Cleinman with Katie Seamon, an aide to state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, who sent a plaque honoring Cleinman Performance Partners. Mayor Gary Herzig, left, presented the plaque on Seward’s behalf.

ONEONTA – The secret to business longevity, said Al Cleinman, is knowledge.

“We had six people around the table the other day, and I realized that between them, they had 70 years of experience here,” he said. “We employ smart people.”

The Otsego County Chamber of Commerce honored Cleinman Performance Partners this morning with a luncheon celebrating their 30 years in Oneonta, building one of the leading business consultants for larger optometry practices.

Knowledge Worker, Not Industry, Is Our Future, Speaker Says


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.

Council To Vote Tonight On Miller Park Sculptures

Council To Vote Tonight

On Miller Park Sculptures

Oneonta Common Council will vote tonight on accepting a $5,000 gift from Al Cleinman to purchase two sculptures from Dale Rogers’ “Spring Awakening” series, to be installed in Miller Park this summer. In addition, the vote will approve spending $3,500 from the Community Landscaping Fund towards the purchase, for a total of $8,500. Cleinman personally picked the pieces, in memory of the late mayor Dick Miller, who died unexpectedly Oct. 25, 2014. “He saw these pieces as a perfect representation of Life Enjoyed” said Mayor Gary Herzig.


Gateway Park To Be Dedicated To Former Mayor Dick Miller

Gateway Park To Be Dedicated

To Former Mayor Dick Miller

This park at Lettis Highway and Main Street, Oneonta, will be dedicated Tuesday to former mayor Dick Miller.  (
This park at Lettis Highway and Main Street, Oneonta, will be dedicated Tuesday to former mayor Dick Miller. (

ONEONTA – Miller Park will be dedicated to the memory of former Mayor Dick Miller at 11 a.m. Tuesday.  The public is welcome.

Located at the intersection of Lettis Highway and Main Street, behind the Benson Hughson Agency, the park was proposed and partly funded by the former mayor’s friend, Al Cleinman, principal in Cleinman Performance Partners, the city consulting firm.

Al Cleinman recieves Key to City

Cleinman Receives Key to City for Beautification

Mayor Dick Miller awards Al Cleinman the key to the city. (Ian Austin/
Mayor Dick Miller awards Al Cleinman the key to the city. (Ian Austin/

ONEONTA – In a small recognition ceremony earlier this afternoon, Al Cleinman of Cleinman Performance Partners, gave a check for $2,500 to the City of Oneonta for Civic Beautification. Mayor Dick Miller had his own gift to give; the key to the city of Oneonta, which he awarded to Cleinman.

“Al’s idea for making this part (of Oneonta) turned out to be a wonderful improvement.” said Miller, “Alan’s Island, which was a joint project between the City of Oneonta, The Garden Club and Cleinman Preformance Partners has made a significant improvement to Oneonta. The gifts the have given go far beyond this small island.”

Cleinman has other ambitious ideas for decorating up the entrance to the city on the James F. Lettis highway, but they have yet to be finalized. “It is not a decision, it is a responsibility of ours to beautify our city.” said Cleinman, “We have a lot of entrances to this city, I challenge others to take this idea and do more with it. “

Posts navigation

21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103