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jobs

Good News, Jobs Aplenty; Bad News, No Housing

EDITORIAL

Good News, Jobs Aplenty;

Bad News, No Housing

Anyone who’s paying attention around here has come to a double conclusion:

►One, pretty much every employer, big or small, has vacancies that can’t be filled.

►Two, if new employees are hired, they often can’t find a convenient, affordable place to live.
No workers. No worker housing. A double bind.
If misery loves company, then economic developer Jody Zakrevsky, CEO of Otsego Now, went to a jobs forum hosted by Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-19, last week at SUNY Cobleskill, and came back with good news: All 11 counties in the 19th Congressional District are in the same boat.

“Columbia County is facing similar challenges,” said F. Michael Tucker, president/CEO of that county’s Economic Development Corp., whom Zakrevsky said had the most to tell Delgado about the challenge. In a way, it’s even moreso.

Tucker said his county’s had the lowest unemployment in the state for 22 months in a row.
Plus the biggest city, Hudson, has become a magnet for New York City folks looking for a weekend getaway. There are 4,500 second homes in that county, and the resulting gentrification is pushing home prices higher than around here.

There’s more good news, though, Tucker said: The state’s Division of Housing & Community Renewal is aware of the conundrum, and has $150 million in grants available to communities that recognize the problem.

Even more good news: Otsego County’s two largest communities, the City of Oneonta and Village of Cooperstown, have happened onto the route to the solution.

In Oneonta in particular, then-Mayor Dick Miller realized there was a hole in the Bresee’s Department Store renovation: The cost was so expensive, rents to allow a developer to make a profit would be more than most people could afford.

City Hall obtained state and federal grants and closed the gap. The resulting four-story apartment complex has been full and profitable for seven years now, and developer Chip Klugo completed the renovation of the building next door, former Stevens Hardware Store, last November. Mayor Gary Herzig, Miller’s successor, gets it, too, and is using grants to make the Lofts On Dietz, Kearney & Son’s 64 apartments and artists’ lofts, doable as well.

In Cooperstown, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch’s plate is full. The village will complete the $2.2 million last leg of a multi-year downtown upgrade this spring, and the $5.7 million Doubleday Field redo later in the year.

However, she’s looking beyond that to adopting the Oneonta model. Village Hall obtained a $1 million CDBG (community development block grant) through the Division of Housing & Community Renewal for the Cooperstown Distillery Expansion, which may be complete as soon as March (with a ribbon-cutting in May).

Once the village proves to the state it can administer CDBGs, Tillapaugh foresees applying for grants and partnering with developers on housing projects as well.

According to Tucker, you just can’t wait to be discovered: Communities need to determine what kind of projects are desirable, then seek out developers who have done similar projects elsewhere, as Miller did with Klugo, and Herzig with the Kearneys’ Lofts.

Almost inevitably, there will be some community opposition, as with the Lofts, and neighbors’ lawsuits, as with the Lofts. Resolve them if you can and move forward.

On hearing about the current conundrum – jobs you can’t fill and, if you can, no housing for the new employees – you might be tempted to get discouraged. No reason to, said Tucker:

A recent Columbia County middle-income apartment complex was finished and immediately filled.
It can happen here, too. Don’t look too far down the road. Do a project at a time: Bresee’s, Stevens, The Lofts, Springbrook’s housing in the Ford Block, above Key Bank, and then – be still beating hearts – the old (but marble-stepped) former Oneonta Hotel.

Cooperstown has done similarly with its downtown upgrades, one project after another – the rain gardens, the Pioneer Street sewerage, the sidewalks, the streetlights – eventually it gets done. Next, appropriately sited apartments.

Tucker pointed to what’s a three-legged stool: Jobs, housing – and job training, and there’s money for that, too, although much is already happening at our local ONC BOCES.

Today’s good-news screaming headline is, THERE’S PLENTY OF WORK. Check this week’s JOBS supplement, inside this edition. Once new paychecks are being cashed, things start to happen.

Let Young Entrepreneur Bring Nick’s Diner Back To Life

Editorial, July 13, 2018

Let Young Entrepreneur

Bring Nick’s Diner Back To Life

Here’s the choice: The nearly complete restoration of Oneonta’s historic Nick’s Diner can go forward, with better than even chances it will succeed. Or, almost complete, it can be allowed to remain vacant, eventually deteriorating to the point it will be razed or removed. It is hoped it will be in much better hands this time around. A failure to keep track of finances and track expenditure has contributed to its demise in the past. There are various ways you can fund a new business but it’s just as important to properly manage its finances throughout its existence.
Hopefully, the assistance of Utility Bidder will make sure no money is wasted when it comes to paying for utilities.
That’s the choice: Something – maybe something good. Or nothing.
Better than even chances because the prospective owner, Rod Thorsland, is from a restaurateur family that has successfully operated the former Pondo’s restaurant in the Sixth Ward and thriving Pondo’s II in Colliersville for many decades.
Given his own experience and the expertise around the Sunday dinner table, would Thorsland – himself, he’s been in the restaurant business since age 16 – assume the significant responsibility of reviving Nick’s and the related debt without confidence he can make it work?

Parker Fish/The Freeman’s Journal – When it meets Tuesday, July 27, Common Council should grant the routine approval of Rod Thorsland’s CDBG grant application, and let the young entrepreneur complete the renovations at Nick’s Diner and reopen the historical Oneonta restaurant.


Under debate in the City of the Hills is whether Common Council should approve an application to the state Office of Community Renewal for a $230,000 CDBG – a federal Community Development Block Grant.
Applicants for CDBGs must submit a “pre-application” to the OCR. Thorsland has, and it’s been approved. So it’s likely the final application will fly right through.
If so, Thorsland will complete the purchase of the diner from Ed May, the local entrepreneur who took on its renovation. Then, within six weeks, the final touches can be done and the venerable Oneonta icon reopened. Drawing in business shouldn’t be hard because of the history of this diner, however, Thorsland will probably want to make sure that he creates an effective website for the restaurant to let people know it’s been renovated and is now open again. There is a number of website building software out there, but one of the most popular is Wix. It only takes one read of a Wix Review to understand why so many people find it so easy to use. Hopefully though, the business will resume as normal. Although, extra marketing isn’t necessarily a bad thing!

“Tour it,” Mayor Herzig advised in an interview, “because it is an absolutely beautiful restoration that keeps the feel of the old railroad car, but at the same time is a state-of-the-art diner, beautifully designed, brand new kitchen, energy efficient.”
Usually, Common Council would simply rubber-stamp a pro-approved application. But a handful of objecting residents showed up at its June 19 meeting, and a few more last Tuesday, July 3, successfully delaying action. Mayor Gary Herzig now hopes for a vote this coming Tuesday, the 17th.

The main objection seems to be: Why should Thorsland get the money? Answer: Why not? CDBGs are designed to help entrepreneurs, close the “gap” between initial cost and possible success.
In Thorsland’s case, he will have to invest $320,000 beyond the CDBG. He has skin in the game. The CDBG simply enables him to shoulder significant risk and provides the prospect of a lot of hard work.
In recent years, the city has directed $1.5 million in state and federal money to promising projects, some which make it, some which don’t. Why not Thorsland, whose prospects don’t seem that daunting? (Among other pluses, Oneonta has been yearning for an old-fashion diner since the beloved Neptune was razed at the end of 2013.)
Further, any entrepreneur who wishes can also seek a CDBG. Call Mispa Haque at City Hall’s Office of Community Development, 607-432-0114, and ask for an application, or email her at mhaque@oneonta.ny.us.
If any of the objectors want money to try something, call her.
The other issue is whether Nick’s can create 15 jobs, as promised.
Thorsland is undeterred: He’s planning a seven-day, 24-hour venture, so he has to fill 21 shifts. Pondo’s II, a daytime operation, has 12 fulltime employees and much shorter hours.

If nothing else, a new Nick’s will improve the western gateway into the downtown, where each summer hundreds of families approaching from Cooperstown All-Star Village get their first impression of the city’s downtown, Herzig said.
When businesspeople ask for help, he continued, Community Development Director Judy Pangman doesn’t decide if the project is worthy; she connects them with the program that might help them.
Until now, Common Council hasn’t decided if applicants are worthy – simply that they qualify to apply.
“If you come to us, no matter who you are, we will identify what assistance you can apply for,” Herzig said, adding: “I don’t want politicians picking or choosing.”
Amen.

Bagnardi’s Shoe Repair, anyone?

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 13
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 13

Auction Action Discussion

14-19eventspage

GALLERY TALK – 3:30 p.m. Discuss the enigmatic works of the late David Byrd with guest curators. Free admission. Refreshments available. The Art Garage, 689 Beaver Meadow Rd., Cooperstown. Call (607)547-5327 or visit www.facebook.com/TheArtGarageCooperstown/

CAREER FAIR – 2-7 p.m. See what jobs are available at Arc Otsego, 35 Academy St., Oneonta. Call 607-432-8595 or visit www.facebook.com/arcotsego/

‘Home Owner Jobs’ Focus of Chamber’s 30th Year

‘Homeowner Jobs’ Focus

Of Chamber’s 30th Year

The Otsego County Chamber of Commerce held a holiday party at NBT Bank tonight honoring their 30th year. Jamie Reynolds, lower left, introduced Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan who spoke on how small businesses who drive our local economy need more support, and that this year will focus on bringing more 'home owner type jobs'. "We are here to support you!" said Heegan. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
At the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce’s holiday party this evening at NBT Bank’s Wall Street, Oneonta, branch, bank Regional Vice President Jamie Reynolds, lower right, introduced Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan, who spoke on how small businesses who drive our local economy need more support, and that this year will focus on attracting more “homeowner-type jobs.” “We are here to support you!” said Heegan.   The chamber is celebrating its 30th year.  (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
HERZIG PRIORITY: GOOD JOBS, BENEFITS

HERZIG PRIORITY:

GOOD JOBS, BENEFITS

Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig, appointed last month but up for election next Tuesday for a term to begin Jan. 1, was interviewed by AllOTSEGO.com’s Don Mathisen on his plans.  This is the second of five excerpts that will appear on this website daily through Saturday.

TOMORROW, HERZIG ON BUDGET

Seward Announces $100,000 Grant for ‘The Future’ of Otsego

Seward Presents $100,000 Grant

For ‘The Future’ Of Otsego County

Senator Jim Seward, R-Milford, congratulates John Abrams, ISD Technician and Dawn Rivers, Director of the Otsego Now Regional Workforce Training Center which opened this morning at 189 Main St. in Oneonta. In his remarks, Seward announced he had secured $100,000 in funding from the state for the center, which aims to train employees with the skills necessary to find jobs in personal health care, manufacturing and other industries. (Ian Austin/ AllOTSEGO.com)
State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, congratulates John Abrams, ISD Technician, and Dawn Rivers, director of the Otsego Now Regional Workforce Training Center, which opened this morning at 189 Main St. in Oneonta.  Seward announced he had secured $100,000 in state  funding  the center, which aims to train employees with the skills necessary to find jobs in personal health care, manufacturing and other industries.  This fits in with Otsego Now’s goal of providing trained workers to companies attracted her by “shovel-ready sites.”  (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
August To August, Otsego County Loses 300 Jobs, Labor Dept. Finds

August To August, Otsego County

Loses 300 Jobs, Labor Dept. Finds

NY Department of Labor LOGOOtsego County lost 300 jobs between August 2014 and August 2015, according to the state Department of Labor monthly report, released today.

Last August, the county had 27,300 jobs; this August, it had dropped to 27,000 even.  No other particulars were broken out for Otsego County.

Delaware County also lost 300 jobs, but on a smaller base.  Between the two Augusts, jobs dropped from 16,500 to 16,200.

Statewide, jobs increased 1.8 percent from 9,083,000 to 9,245.000.

New York City saw the largest increase, 2.3 percent, from 4,098,000 to 4,192,000.    Overall, Upstate employment was down.

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