ONEONTA – Devin Morgan, Otsego Now chairman during the tumult that led to the resignation of the organization’s president, Sandy Mathes, in June, has resigned.
According to a letter sent to county representatives and fellow board members, his resignation is effective at the end of the year, and the current vice chair, Rick Hulse, will serve as acting chair until a decision on Morgan’s successor is made.
Sandy Mathes, who revolutionized economic development in Otsego County in the past three years, has given the 90-day notice required by his contract, and will be departing as CEO of the Otsego Now organization he created by summer’s end.
As if to punctuate the end of an era, Bob Hanft of Pierstown, who chaired what was then the county IDA when Mathes was brought aboard in January 2014, and veteran board member Jim Salisbury of Otego, announced at today’s board meeting they are leaving the Otsego Now board.
Hanft, the retired J.P. Morgan managing director, was typically diplomatic, thanking his colleagues for “a great seven years,” and adding, “We always said this thing is a marathon, and it is.”
But Salisbury, a retired banker, was blunt. “I’m done with this organization. ’Bye.” And he walked out.
New board member Cheryl Robinson, who chaired the board’s recently formed Reorganization Committee that proposed replacing Mathes with a full-time executive, moved to abolish the committee, which is “at the end of its charter,” she said.
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.
ONEONTA – The Otsego Now board of directors, at its monthly meeting Thursday, approved minutes of its new Reorganization Committee that includes among the committee’s goals: “engage in a search and hire a full-time CEO.”
The 2-5 vote came over the objections of board member Bob Hanft, immediate past chairman. He said including that line in the Reorganization Committee’s 11 “duties and responsibilities” will only serve to slow Otsego Now’s current momentum. “I think it does more harm than good.”
Hanft said the committee had been directed to come up with a plan for the future, and that taking on the mandate of seeking a new CEO should come only after a plan is developed and approved. “I think that’s line should be stricken,” he said.