The area’s economy is under construction as projects have won state funding and local groups jockey to boost the vitality of the region’s business, commercial and private sectors — and find and promote opportunities for growth next year and beyond.
In 2013, economic initiatives were awarded state backing totaling more than $7 million for projects ranging from downtown Oneonta development to training at Amphenol in Sidney. Projects in Otsego, Delaware, Chenango and Schoharie counties combined municipal, agricultural and business assets to enhance communities identify various districts and market the region in new ways.
Colleges and hospitals remain employment and economic anchors in the region, with agriculture, light manufacturing, retailing and tourism also taking roles. But empty storefronts and unemployment remain signs of an economic landscape in need of continued grooming.
New York state’s unemployment rate was 7.4 percent in November 2013, its lowest level since January 2009, according to preliminary figures released Dec. 19 by the state Department of Labor.
Unemployment for Otsego, Delaware, Chenango and Schoharie counties in October ranged from 6.2 percent to 7.1 percent, according to state data not seasonally adjusted. In January, unemployment in the four-county area was between 10 percent and 12 percent.
In early December, details were released about more than $7 million in funding for projects in Otsego, Delaware and Chenango counties. The mostly economic development awards will support job-creation, business ventures and municipal improvements and enhance quality of life, state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, said in a media release. The state awards were through the Regional Economic Development Council program to the Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier areas.
In November, elected, business and education representatives met in Oneonta at Seward’s invitation for a summit on economic development in Otsego County. The meeting highlighted local assets, such as educational and agricultural resources, and noted the lack of a shovel-ready site that could attract a manufacturer or business seeking an operations location and the need for a “go-to” person or entity to be a contact for resources in the county.