Looking back on 2013, it may be remembered as a staging ground of sorts on a number of significant issues. While matters such as the local economy, natural gas development, the pending sale of Otsego County’s nursing home and the war on drugs attracted much attention, little if anything was resolved on these and other issues. The Daily Star’s editorial staff identified this year’s top 10 stories as follows:
1. AREA ECONOMY WEATHERS UPS AND DOWNS
When the year began, local unemployment rates were hovering around the 10 percent mark, heralding the start of what Douglas Gulotty, interim chief executive officer of the Otsego County IDA, called “a year of gathering and rebuilding.”
Gulotty’s own role with the IDA was at the heart of one of the year’s biggest economic stories, as longtime IDA head Carolyn Lewis announced in the spring of 2013 that she would be leaving her post in August.
With Gulotty filling in and a permanent successor not yet named , the agency is poised to take on a role of even greater importance. On the heels of a November economic development summit hosted by state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, local stakeholders met in December to act on one of the summit’s recommendations and establish the IDA as the “go-to” agency for outside businesses seeking to move to the area.
Lewis’ departure coincided with news that Otsego County Tourism director Deb Taylor would also be stepping down, prompting the county to look toward privatizing its tourism promotion efforts.
This was not the only time the lines between public and private blurred in 2013. Local governments and agencies partnered with businesses on several efforts to rehabilitate the region’s economy.
One high-profile example was the restoration of the former Bresee’s building, a $6.1 million project six years in the making that finally made its debut in 2013. Klugo’s Parkview Place, a mixed-use building of retail space, offices and apartments, celebrated a ribbon cutting in October. The project was spearheaded by private developer Chip Klugo and supported by the city of Oneonta and the Otsego County Development Corp.