Updated 04/24/2012 06:41 PM
A new vision for Otsego County's economic future
After a disappointing showing in the competition for last year's state economic development grants, Otsego County is on a mission. Our Sarah Blazonis has details.
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ONEONTA, N.Y. -- A lot has changed in Oneonta in the past 40 years and Joe Ruffino's family business has been there to see it. He says overall, the area's economy seemed strongest in the restaurant's early days in the 1970s.
"I think we can get back to that time. We still have a lot going for us with the colleges and the tourism, but we really need to learn how to capitalize on the colleges and the tourism," said Ruffino.
Strengthening those areas are among the goals Otsego County officials have outlined to compete for this year's state economic development funds.
"I'm confident that by pursuing the course that we've outlined, it will produce true results and new success stories that we can call our own," said State Senator James Seward, who helped organize an economic summit in the county last month.
That course includes small business development by identifying investors for capital resources. Improving networking among major employers is also a goal, as is enhancing broadband access.
But officials say it's not just about supporting the assets that are already here. They say one of their goals is to attract what they call a 'big fish' to further economic development.
That means getting industrial space ready by developing infrastructure and marketing it to potential employers. Officials say goals like this highlight the need for synergy in proposed projects.
"If you're putting in an infrastructure request, you have a commercial request, you have a municipal request. That will win the points I think and give us the opportunity to bring the dollars we need, because no one can do the development without all those pieces in place," said Doug Gulotty, president of the Otsego County Development Corporation.
Officials say planning is still in the early stages, but they hope to have a number of solid proposals to submit to the regional council by September.