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Local News

November 15, 2013

Local experts debate job-luring strategies

ONEONTA — If a company were looking for a business location, Otsego County would lose in the first round of consideration for lack of a shovel-ready site, a speaker at an economic summit said Thursday.

First impressions count, according to Richard Sheehy, a site-selection specialist with CH2M HILL, a consulting, design, build, operations and program management firm, said.

Sheehy was among several speakers and panelists who addressed about 175 people attending the Otsego County Economic Development Summit II at the Foothills Performing Arts and Civic Center in downtown Oneonta.

Otsego County hasn’t had a coordinated effort to position itself for economic development opportunity, Sheehy said, and doesn’t have a designated go-to agency or person to field inquiries about locating and doing business locally.

“The competition out there is very stiff for jobs and investment,” Sheehy said. He urged listeners the next time they leave and return to the county to imagine seeing the community for the first time.

State Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, called for the summit, which was presented in conjunction with the Otsego County Development Corp., the Otsego County Industrial Development Agency, the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce, and Citizen Voices.

Seward said as a follow-up to Thursday’s session, he would convene a smaller group to develop ideas. The senator said his first summit in Cooperstown early last year identified some priorities, including a need for broadband access, and the second summit was to answer questions about the direction and initiatives of economic development.

About five economic development professionals from the public and private sectors spoke on panels to share experiences and give advice to Otsego County politicians, business, banking, education and other representatives.

Summit topics Thursday ranged from state government support for initiatives, public and private funding and collaborations with universities, colleges and public schools. Factors in economic development include leveraging universities, infrastructure, developing partnerships and identifying a work force, speakers said.

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