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March 13, 2014

Otsego IDA chief, Mathes, reviews economic development steps

The Otsego County Industrial Development Agency and Otsego County will identify one or two sites in April or May to make shovel-ready to attract a company, the recently appointed agency chief said Wednesday.

The IDA also is working to spur economic development and market its identity as the “point of entry” for companies interested in locating locally, said Alexander “Sandy” Mathes Jr., chief executive officer.

Mathes gave an update on IDA activities to about 60 guests at a Citizen Voices program at The Carriage House in the town of Davenport, just beyond the town of Oneonta line. Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller and Kathy Clark, chairwoman of the Otsego County Board of Representatives, spoke on related economic development concerns, such as applying for state grants and supporting small businesses.

Otsego County is part of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council. Speakers addressed the need within the county for public/private partnerships, funding, networking to share resources and information and also reaching out to entities in nearby regions, such as the Southern Tier and Albany area.

Meanwhile, colleges in Oneonta are working on Start-Up NY, the governor’s initiative to provide tax-free sites for new and expanding businesses. Hartwick College will have a forum at 7:30 a.m. April 29 to present information, said Richard Harlem in introductory remarks at the Citizen Voices meeting.

Also, today the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee of the Otsego County Board of Representatives will meet to discuss the mission, staffing and other functions of the county’s Economic Development Office.

Citizen Voices officials said economic development needs to be supported to increase the area’s tax base and provide young people with opportunities and options to live in the area.

In January, Mathes, past executive of the Greene county IDA, was hired as a consultant to lead the IDA, and Elizabeth Horvath of Cooperstown was named chief operating officer. In December, the IDA was named as the key, single point of contact for economic development.

Mathes said Wednesday that he has met a “tremendous” number of people since he started with the IDA. The agency’s goal is private-sector job growth, he said.

Horvath explained that she has been working “behind the scenes.”

“There is a ground swell of enthusiasm and opportunity in the county,” Horvath said. “We’re off to a good start.”

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