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Guest Column

August 10, 2013

Finding common ground for the common good

Based on an article in the July 27 and 28 issue of The Daily Star by Sustainable Otsego spokesperson Adrian Kuzminski, it appears that there is some common ground with the group Citizen Voices.

The article states that “Our local economy has been flat, if not in decline, for decades” and “tourism has been maxed out for years.” Clearly, if we continue in the same direction, our economy is not sustainable. Citizen Voices’ focus is about the need for economic development in the region, and thus the groups have something in common.

As is often the case, however, the devil may be in the details regarding what should be done to reverse the downward trend. At one time, Oneonta had 28 manufacturing facilities employing 993 people, and hops were a cash crop. Today we have less manufacturing but still have some, and Chobani alone employs more people that all 28 manufacturers did back then.

Companies such as Chobani, Corning, Ioxus, Ommegang, Custom Electronics, and Astrocom prosper because of our abundant natural resources and quality people. However, the hops industry has gone the way of the Long Island potato farms, as it could no longer compete because of variables such as soil, weather, labor costs and transportation.

The article speaks to boutique-type industry — which sounds good when you say it fast. However, that approach alone would not stop the current “brain drain” or enable our children to remain here instead of having to leave once they’re educated.

It also suggests we move away from fossil fuels to things like “solar, hydro, wind and perhaps biofuels.” It refers to the need to “stop exporting energy dollars.” Thus arises the need to focus on the details.

How do we get from here to there? What is the bridge? Natural gas is now overly abundant, and can help change our balance of trade deficit with regards to energy. Cutting energy imports and actually producing energy to export would have a huge positive impact upon our national economy.

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