ONEONTA — Otsego County’s new Industrial Development Agency economic development team was introduced Friday at a media conference at the county office building in Oneonta.
Alexander “Sandy” Mathes Jr., past executive of the Greene County IDA, has been retained as a consultant to lead the effort, and Elizabeth Horvath of Cooperstown will serve as the chief operating officer.
They fill a vacancy that was created when county economic developer Carolyn Lewis resigned in August. She was making $48,500. The post had been filled on an interim basis by Douglas Gulotty.
The two were introduced by state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, and county IDA chairwoman Sharon Oberriter.
The process began, Seward said, when he hosted an economic development summit March 2012. Following a more recent meeting, there was a realization that the county needed a single contact for new businesses that want to come to the area, or those already here that are seeking to grow, and that shovel-ready sites needed to be identified and prepared. Seward thanked the IDA for recently agreeing to be the lead agency in that process.
“As of today a new economic development team is in place. Poised for success we have the momentum and are ready to seize the opportunity in presenting all Otsego has to offer,” Oberriter said. “These two individuals bring a wealth of knowledge and dynamic personalities to the table. Their energy, along with our unified approach toward economic development, will mean a bright future for Otsego County.”
Mathes, 53, who lives lives in Coxsackie, will facilitate the preparation of a strategic economic development , which will include greenfield site preparation, redevelopment opportunities and the re-use of vacant buildings. Other areas of focus will be establishing a “single point of entry” for the all development, and connect the county economic development goals regionally to other agencies. The three year contract can be canceled by the county after 90 days notice.
Mathes said that with a young family, he has no plans to move to the area but will be looking for ways to limit the commute.
“It’s still a work in progress,” he said. He will be receiving a monthly $10,000 fee, but as a consultant he will not receive any other benefits and will have to supply his equipment.
Mathes, who worked from 1983 to 1998 for the the late state Sen. Charles Cook, who served Delaware County, said because of that service, “it feels close to home. I spent a lot of time in this county.”
He said he got involved with the process when Seward asked him to help with the November summit. It helped connect him to the community, he said, which is similar to Greene.
“I understand the county,” he said, “and can contribute right away.”
Horvath, 48, will receive an annual salary of $60,000. She will assume responsibility for the administration of current IDA contracts and new ones as they are developed. Her experience includes 11 years as a management consultant with Corporate Executive Board in Washington, D.C. Her husband grew up in Cherry Valley and has a construction business in Cooperstown that she has been involved with.
Along with raising a family, “we have a big stake in Otsego County,” she said, adding that she’s looking forward to contributing to its future.
The Kingston Daily Freeman said when Mathes left the Greene County IDA position, after serving from 2002 to 2010, there was “significant criticism over his salary and bonus structure.” Oberriter said Friday she was familiar with the criticism, but after reviewing his background,“we found nothing to preclude him from the position. He was recommended by others who knew him well.”
Up until now, the IDA has never had its own employees, Oberriter said, as they’ve always been county employees. The agency is able to fund the kickoff with revenue from its operations, including loans. Future funding will come from both public- and private-sector partners.
Mathes and Horvath will work from the Otsego County Office Building in Oneonta.