The Otsego County Chamber of Commerce hosted a Zoom town hall Tuesday, July 27, to discuss workforce needs for small businesses.
The participants included Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-19, State Sen. Peter Oberacker, R-Maryland, Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, Assemblyman Brian Miller, R-New Hartford, and Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-Schoharie.
The overall sentiments of the Zoom call echoed the reality of a huge problem with understaffing and the difficulties hiring employees in Otsego County.
Business owners spoke of restaurants being unable to service customers due to staff shortages and some businesses being forced to close early based on having no staff available.
Audrey Benkenstein, from Opportunities for Otsego, spoke about how many of her organization’s positions required advanced degrees and training, which made finding employees very difficult.
“We serve a vulnerable population and without staffing our programs suffer,” Benkenstein said. She said there were also lack of transportation options, lack of internet issues and lack of day care assistance available.
ONEONTA – “How do we spark economic development in our region using the resources that we have?” asked Otsego County Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Ann Heegan.
That was the question that informed “Pathways to Prosperity,” the second annual Mohawk Valley Region Workforce Summit, being held – perhaps as you read this – at SUNY Oneonta’s Morris Hall.
“Who better to answer that question than local leaders who have been 30 years in business, hiring smart people, moving their businesses forward?,” she continued in an interview. Further, “how can we tap into our abundance of higher education?”
Here are some of the highlights of the Workforce Summit:
• Governor Cuomo’s director of workforce development, Madhuri Kommareddi, planned to discuss the future of the state’s workforce.
• A presentation on SUNY Oneonta’s
Entrepreneurship Club and how to tap into its ideas, led by Wade Thomas, School of Economics & Business Dean, and Otsego Chamber board chair Al Rubin.
• Al Cleinman, president of
Cleinman Performance Partners, the national consultant to optometrists, who electrified last year’s conference at The Otesaga with a call to develop “knowledge workers,” planned to revisit and update his concept.
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.
COOPERSTOWN – The good news is, if you want a job as a registered nurse, retail supervisor of information security analyst around here, you’ve got it.
The bad news is, young people aren’t participating in the workforce as before, and people generally are leaving the area.
Overall, if you really want to work, go into the hospital and healthcare fields.
That was the news Christian Harris, state Department of Labor analyst for the region that includes Otsego County, shared with 70 attendees at a Workforce Summit underway today at The Otesaga, co-sponsored by the Otsego Chamber of Commerce and State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford.
THEATER – 8 p.m. Performance of Woody Allen’s “Don’t Drink The Water.” Cost, $10-$15. The Foothills Performing Arts Center, Oneonta. Call 607-431-2080 or visit foothillspac.org
POETRY FESTIVAL – 6:30-7:30 p.m. Free reading open to the public features nationally recognized poets; Marie Howe, Major Jackson, Robert Pinsky. Auditorium, Sharon Springs Central School. Call 518-284-3426 or visit www.klinkhart.org/poetry