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April 6, 2009

My Turn: Economic development needed more than ever

Economic development has taken on an increased awareness in these trying times. The term seems ubiquitous in newspapers, on TV, the Internet and all other media. It has become a top priority for communities and job creation has emerged as an important responsibility for public officials.

There are four general approaches to stimulating economic growth: the attraction, retention, formation and expansion of new or existing companies.

In order to achieve these goals, it is necessary to implement comprehensive and inclusive strategies that address the needs of this growth, including access to capital, workforce development, housing, transportation, regulatory policies, physical infrastructure and quality of life. Hence, there must be a multifaceted approach to stimulating development and economic growth.

The Otsego County Economic Development Agencies, which, in addition to the county department, also includes the County of Otsego Industrial Development Agency and the Otsego County Development Corp., has focused its attention and resources toward the formation and expansion of small, local businesses.

It is recognized that the birth of new firms and the expansion of younger firms are a significant source of job growth, experience faster growth in sales, are more flexible, incorporate technological innovations and provide for economic diversity.

Furthermore, homegrown and locally owned companies tend to play important roles in community affairs, profits from these companies remain in the community, and local firms provide more stability because of a greater willingness to “ride it out” than close their doors.

The process of starting a business is as unique as the business owners themselves and the environments and markets they respond to. However, it is safe to say that almost all new or growing businesses face the same difficulties and barriers to development. They are short of capital and they have needs for managerial and technical support.

People starting new ventures find it difficult to obtain sufficient start-up capital through debt or equity financing. Because of the inherent risks involved in new business formation, most financial institutions are reluctant to invest in new enterprises.

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