In the IDA meeting on 8/15/13, Interim Director Douglas Gulotty acknowledged that the IDA has a very limited role in Otsego County’s economic development. He said the present IDA was “not sustainable” and supporting existing Otsego County companies grow is a more-prudent course than trying to bring large companies here. He stated, “I’d rather hit a string of singles than go for a home run.”
While Doug discussed bringing in an economic development specialist, he was not enthusiastic about it because that office would annually cost about $100,000. The idea quickly lost interest.
What was not brought up, but alluded to by Doug’s “home run” metaphor, was the back story of almost certain failure to transfer a larger company here by anyone. The IDA would then have a $100,000 Economic Development office fail in its mission at a time when the IDA, according to Doug, is trying to financially stabilize its organization. Otsego County’s budget is stressed to its limits already without funding something that has little or no chance of success.
Otsego County does not simply have a marketing problem that can be solved by an economic development specialist. In order for Otsego County to attract people to a 21st century place to live and work, we need county-wide broadband, quality K-12 schools and a robust shopping district.
The idea that the IDA is a panacea for a fast infusion of jobs was always misguided. If the IDA’s perceived mission is pumped up past its realistic capabilities, they are certain to fail. If they are seen as a supportive arm of growing local businesses, they can help Otsego County grow in the slow, methodical manner over time that we understand it takes businesses to succeed.
Kosmer is the Otsego County representative for District 8