Otsego Now has issued a call for volunteers to clean up litter from the Oneonta Railyards at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19. “Wetlands not Wastelands” is co-sponsored by the Keep Mohawk Valley Beautiful Campaign. The project is expected to take until 5 p.m., and volunteers may come and go as they choose.
The Railyards, an historic area and the focus of a major economic revitalization project, contains 27 acres of protected wetlands. Unfortunately, much of this critical ecosystem remains littered with trash. Gina Gardner, marketing and innovation and acceleration coordinator at Otsego Now, highlighted the threat this litter poses to wildlife and the community.
ONEONTA Otsego Now, the umbrella organization of the Otsego County Industrial Development Agency and the Otsego County Capital Resource Corporation, is set to launch the county’s first Innovation and Acceleration Center, the primary focus of which will be bringing a booming tech and manufacturing industry to the region.
According to a recent press release, during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the IDA witnessed a devastating economic loss due to the lack of tourism. The hospitality industry currently makes up 25 percent of the industry sector in Otsego County. When the tourist sector was forced to shut down, the county’s sales tax dropped 30 percent and bed tax dropped by 50 percent. Roughly 60,000 tourists stopped coming to Otsego County. After witnessing this, the IDA identified manufacturing as a growth sector to the local and surrounding economy.
With daily life returning to a semblance of normalcy, Otsego Now is actively continuing its stated quest “to act as a catalyst for economic transformation of the Otsego County economy.” When formed in 2014 as an umbrella organization for Otsego County’s Industrial Development Agency and Capital Resource Corporation, Otsego Now was tasked with the responsibility to “navigate the economic development process, develop sites, provide financial support, prepare workforce, and communicate with and mobilize the stakeholders needed for economic development” of Otsego County.
Over the past several years, the Town of Richfield and Village of Richfield Springs have built a coalition of residents, civic groups, and local government officials to form a revitalization plan for the two municipalities. Momentum began to build back in 2015, with the formation of a Joint Town/Village Comprehensive Plan Committee. Working with a professional planning firm, under a grant secured by Otsego Now, a Joint Comprehensive Plan was adopted in late 2018 by both Town and Village. The Town then quickly followed with a Zoning Amendment in 2019. Both the plan and the amendment won New York Planning Federation awards for best in state in 2019 and 2020, respectively. The stage was set for grant seeking.
United States Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer visited Oneonta late last week to back Otsego Now’s application to create an acceleration center to stimulate new startups and manufacturing in Otsego County, with the potential to bring up to 300 new jobs over the next five years.
“I have a simple message,” Sen. Schumer said. “Otsego County has all the right ingredients to be a leader in advanced electronics manufacturing. With a boost from the federal government, we can supercharge rural communities here to create new jobs and new companies.”
He said the Otsego County Acceleration Center “gets my full backing in asking for nearly $2 million in the federal backing it needs to make the greater Oneonta area an emerging hub for tech and innovation.”
Citing manufacturers Custom Electronics and Ioxus, the Majority Leader said Otsego County already stands as an ‘electronics hub’ in upstate New York.
Rep. Antonio Delgado on his IOXUS tour in Oneonta on February 22.
Rep. Elise Stefanik with Andela Production Manager Dave Spencer during her tour of Andela Products in Richfield Springs on February 22.
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R) stopped in Richfield Springs Tuesday, February 22, for her first official visit to Otsego County since lawmakers grafted its northernmost regions into her already-sprawling 21st Congressional District.
“I used to have 12 counties in my district, now I’ll have 18 if I get the support of the voters in November,” she said as she toured Andela Products and Ruby Lake Glass on Route 28. She heard from Andela Production Manager Dave Spencer and Ruby Lake Managing Member Jonathan Gross as the pair talked about challenges facing small manufacturers in upstate New York. The two companies, which together recycle, pulverize, and repurpose glass products to ship around the world, struggle with the now-common pressures of supply chain, labor, and regulatory burdens.
“It’s costing us three-and-a-half times more for a container ship now than it did six months ago,” Mr. Spencer said.
The Congresswoman noted her concern that the companies’ labor woes mirror those of small businesses throughout her district.
“We have to get people back to work,” she said. “I think the pandemic unemployment benefits went on too long and people just stopped going to work. You’re facing regulatory hurdles and big taxes, I understand that.”
As for New York-specific politics, Congresswoman Stefanik said she welcomed upstate native Harry Wilson into the now-four-candidate race to run as the Republican candidate for
ONEONTA – Otsego Now President Jody Zakrevsky may save Ioxus.
“Ioxus is in the process of being sold to XS Power Batteries,” he said, appearing Tuesday, Nov. 17, at Common Council, via Zoom. Its CEO Scottie Johnson “indicated he was planning on closing Ioxus and moving the company to Knoxville, Tenn., but we worked with him to keep the facility here.”
Doing so, he said, would invest $14 million in expanding the building and double the current employment at the company.
XS Power Batteries, based in Knoxville, is “a premium battery group and one of the fastest-growing players in vehicle and stationary battery space.”
“He plans on expanding his product line,” said Zakrevsky. “He wants to get into ultra-capacitors. We can keep him here and grow his company.”
Initially, he said, Johnson was interested in purchasing the equipment and moving it to his Knoxville location, but the equipment was too big to move and the plant there was too small to accommodate it.
Instead, Zakrevsky put together “a strong package,” with a PILOT agreement, sales-tax exemptions and a $1 million Empire State Development Excelsior Tax Credit award.
He also had Johnson meet with the Otsego County Chamber and local realtors who showed houses. They engaged in a discussion with U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and heard a presentation from the state Power Authority.
“I think he appreciated that,” he said.
Zakrevsky said “it’s not a done deal,” but “it’s going forward.”
Otsego County small businesses and not-for-profit corporations with fewer than 50 employees are eligible for grants up to $500 to buy PPE (personal protective equipment) or install fixtures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as long as Governor Cuomo’s emergency declaration is in effect.
The new Community Foundation of Otsego County and Otsego Now have contributed $25,000 each to make $50,000 available for this purpose.
ONEONTA — A $420,000 grant so Andela Products Inc. can expand into the Richfield Springs Industrial Park leads off the list of grants Otsego Now is hoping to receive in this year’s round of state economic development funding, to be announced Thursday in Albany.
A $420,000 grant so Andela Products Inc. can expand into the Richfield Springs Industrial Park leads off the list of grants Otsego Now is hoping to receive in this year’s round of state economic development funding, to be announced Thursday in Albany.
Otsego Now’s Director of Finance & Administration Meaghan Marino will represent her organization, which either submits or advises project sponsors on the annual local CFA applications. CFA stands for “comprehensive funding application,” and is the state’s vehicle to distribute funding to the 10 economic development regions.
Usually, Governor Cuomo makes the funding announcements at a gathering in The Egg at the Empire State Plaza government complex.
Otsego Now CEO Jody Zakrevsky provided this list of local projects seeking funding this year.
Otsego Now/Richfield Springs Business Park
$2,123,000 Total Budget
Springbrook: Ford Building Restoration
$5,000,000 Total Budget
County of Otsego: Energy Study
$100,000 Total Budget
Oneonta Grain Innovation Center, Lofts on Dietz
$926,500 Total Budget
Babcock’s Tavern, Wells Bridge
$285,000 Total Budget
Otsego Now Halal Meat Processing Facility, Otego
$1,100,000 Total Budget
American XTreme Family Entertainment Center, Otego
FILM – 7 p.m. Showing ‘The Dragon Murder Mystery’ (1934) by Oneonta author S.S. Van Dine. Includes introductory remarks & talk back session. Oneonta History Center, 183 Main St., Oneonta. 607-432-0960 or visit www.oneontahistory.org/index.htm
By JIM KEVLIN • The Freeman’s Journal & Hometown Oneonta
COOPERSTOWN – When Otsego Now CEO Jody Zakrevsky arrived a year ago, he was told not to bring natural gas to Cooperstown, he said to a Cooperstown audience Monday, April 9, in one of several “Town Hall” meetings he’s convening around the county.
Asked afterward who told him, he said the leadership of Otsego 2000, board President Nicole Dillingham and Executive Director Ellen Pope. “They advised me there would be strong opposition,” said Zakrevsky. “At the time, I took their advice.”
Dillingham disagreed, “We had a cordial meeting to discuss our work, and his work. We never told him what he could do. That’s absurd.”
Otsego Now is the county’s Industrial Development Agency; Otsego 2000 is the Cooperstown-based environmental group.
There are two options to serving Cooperstown with natural gas, Zakrevsky said in an interview the morning after the “Town Hall” – running a line from Oneonta’s NYSEG system; or the preferred option, running a line down Route 28 from Richfield Springs’ Tennessee line, which has a greater gas supply.
ONEONTA – At his first “Town Hall,” Otsego Now CEO Jody Zakrevsky last evening asked a Shineman Chapel full of Hartwick College student for ideas, including what might keep them here after graduation, and they told him:
How about turning the Oneonta area into a beacon for renewable energy, asked Will May, a freshman from Pittsburgh. Referring to the Green New Deal, he said, “We should be proving it is possible.”