The success of Greater Oneonta economic development will hinge on the ability of the two Oneontas to think and work as one. All Oneonta political leaders who represent the city and town of Oneonta running for office this year need to be publicly challenged to come out in support of the Oneonta economic development plan.
In order for Oneonta to take its rightful place as the area’s commercial and cultural hub, Oneonta needs to go it alone. We need to do our own economic development because there is no other public or private entity that can see and is willing to invest in Oneonta’s potential. Real Oneontans are the only ones who can deliver the goods!
We need our own entity that says Oneonta, an operational unit that deals exclusively with job creation within the footprint of the city and town of Oneonta. It needs to start with creating our own economic development entity with an expert staff and allied subcontractors, most certainly the private model. Initially, it needs to be backed by equal funding shares by city and town governments, be organized with its own internal revenue centers and one that encourages private investment.
We need to control our own destiny. Let’s not look around for someone or some outside entity to step up to take care of us. We need to do it ourselves. And we certainly shouldn’t look to Otsego County government for any funding support. The county is experiencing increasing financial stress and has extensive outstanding financial obligations, and when push comes to shove, the county board will likely use its resources to offset debt and operational stress. That’s just the way it has always been!
The first thing the new economic development organization needs to do is to develop a combined city/town economic development master plan that recognizes that everything we have to deal with needs to be done together. It needs to focus on filling the Pony Farm Industrial Park, securing infrastructure funding for extending utilities, developing a new modern Roundhouse Road in the old rail-yards, marketing the East End, West End, Southside and downtown retail sectors, and overall Oneonta community promotion to include the performing arts, conventions and sports tourism.