Bureaucracy isn’t usually associated with swift, decisive action. So we will admit to being a little bit surprised when local stakeholders came together less than a month after a recent economic development summit to implement some of the changes a consultant had recommended.
The summit hosted by Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, on Nov. 14 had a few clear messages for local leaders. One was to prepare more shovel-ready sites. The other was to establish one entity or organization as the go-to for any company wanting to set up shop in the local area.
The first recommendation is obviously going to take some time. But on Dec. 5, leaders of local government and economic development organizations got together and took action on the second.
Leading representatives from the Otsego County Development Corporation, the county Industrial Development Agency, the county Board of Representatives and the town and the city of Oneonta met at Seward’s office and decided that the IDA would be the lead agency for the county.
Just like that.
So much for the slowness of government bureaucracy.
We couldn’t be happier with this development — no pun intended — for a few key reasons.
For one thing, it would seem to make all the sense in the world for the IDA to facilitate economic development opportunities for the county. That already describes the agency’s existing mission, so in that sense, this changes nothing. But it is huge to ensure that other stakeholders in the county are on the same page, and inter-agency conflicts can be avoided.
Secondly, it truly is remarkable how quickly this matter was resolved. It’s easy to listen to advice, and it’s another thing to follow it, especially when that involves getting together a lot of people who may not always see eye-to-eye or seek the same goals. We applaud not only Sen. Seward for helping to bring this group together, but also everyone who sat at that table on Dec. 5 and made this possible.
There is, of course, a little irony in the fact that the agency chosen to lead this effort is one that lacks its own leader. Doug Gulotty, who has been heading up the IDA on an interim basis since the departure of Carolyn Lewis, said that the selection is down to two candidates and that a final decision is expected soon.
Given this recent refining of the IDA’s role, the stakes are that much higher for whoever steps into this role now. We look forward to the announcement of Lewis’ successor with high hopes for what the future might hold.