The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Local News

December 28, 2012

Local businesses endured ups, downs

As the U.S. economy continued its slow climb out of the Great Recession, its steps forward and stumbles backward were reflected in this region.

The unemployment rate remained stubbornly high: 7.7 percent nationally and 8.3 percent in New York state, according to preliminary figures for November released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The high percentage for the state was linked, at least partially, to job losses resulting from Hurricane Sandy, which deeply affected the downstate economy but had little direct effect on upstate businesses.

The unemployment rate was 8.6 nationally and 8 percent in New York for November 2011.

Regionally, jobless figures for April in Chenango, Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie counties ranged from 7.6 to 9.3 percent during a month when the statewide rate was 8.1 percent.

For local businesses, 2012 had a dizzying array of ups and downs.

The Chobani yogurt company, a star of the regional economy, was no different. The South Edmeston company was named official yogurt supplier to the U.S. Olympic Team, and its ads appeared during broadcasts of the Summer Olympics from London in July and August. It continued a $134 million expansion project at its plant in the town of Columbus.

In June, Hamdi Ulukaya, its founder, president and CEO, was honored as the retail and consumer products entrepreneur of the year for the New York area by Ernst & Young.

And the company opened Chobani SoHo, its first yogurt bar, in a trendy Manhattan neighborhood.

But Chobani also was implicated in a die-off of mussels in the Unadilla River that appeared to be related to its sale of whey byproduct to Chenango and Otsego county farmers who used it as fertilizer.

In addition, the company was fined $178,000 in March by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration for workplace violations, and it agreed this month to pay $130,000 to settle accusations that it drew water from a local aquifer without proper permits.

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