By Denise Richardson The Daily Star
---- — Parking fees, a rock concert and well-received art exhibits were among factors in 2013 that reflect efforts to secure Cooperstown’s future, the village mayor said Tuesday during a business-oriented event in Oneonta.
Cooperstown continues taking steps toward economic vitality but also must be at the table of ongoing talks about economic development, village mayor Jeff Katz said to about 65 guests at the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce.
Katz was among elected leaders and business representatives who addressed the need for economic development that can provide jobs, welcome businesses and sustain the quality of life within the region. Jobs, tax cuts, mandate relief and collaboration were key words in a wide-ranging discussion at the event Tuesday morning at the Foothills Performing Arts and Civic Center.
Other speakers were Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller, state Assemblyman Pete Lopez, R-Schoharie; state Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-Nelson; state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford; and U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook.
Guests also included bankers and education and health care officials.
“We all have a common goal,” Joseph Sutaris, senior vice president at Community Bank, the event sponsor, said in welcoming remarks. “That goal is quality of life. Economic development is entwined with quality of life.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is promoting entrepreneurship as well as tax relief for businesses, among other measures to further the economy and attract investments to the state.
Local organizations also have been advocating for economic progress. In November, Seward was host to an economic summit for Otsego County last year that identified strengths, including agricultural and water resources, and needs, such as shovel-ready sites for relocating firms.
However, Sutaris said, economic development calls not only for supporting start-up ventures but also existing companies.
Seward said government relief also must be applied to benefit businesses that have stayed in New York.
Seward said his legislative priorities include continued work to increase access to broadband for residents and businesses and equitable funding for school districts. Seward said he doesn’t object to the Common Core Curriculum but its “disastrous roll-out” indicates a need for more professional and staff development and support from parents.
In Cooperstown last year, a parking fee structure sparked controversy, Katz said, and a performance by Furthur, a band that included two former Grateful Dead members, helped expand the village’s tourism base.
The village continues to take initiatives to secure its financial and economic future by applying for more grants and considering an outdoor dining proposal, Katz said. And the outlook is good for this year’s inductions into the National Baseball Hall of Fame he said.
“As Cooperstown and Oneonta succeed, so does the county,” Katz said.
Lopez called for a main focus in the state capital to be on creating and maintaining jobs.
Laurie Zimniewicz, a semi-retired business consultant and a member of the Oneonta Family YMCA board of trustees, said the program Tuesday showed a collaborative approach among elected leaders toward economic development in the area, particularly the local need for jobs.
On the panel, Magee, chairman of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, welcomed the governor’s proposed tax reforms but said the state has to be sure to “cut the right taxes.” For example, changes to reduce estate taxes may aid families wishing to pass on farms from one generation to another, he said.
“I’ll be working on maintaining funding for agricultural programs,” he said.
In Washington, D.C., the U.S. Senate has passed the Farm Bill, which may come out of conference this week, Gibson said, and the bill will be good for New York state.
Gibson said another key to economic development is re-industrialization of America. Ioxus, a manufacturer of capacitors in Oneonta, is an example of job creation and re-industrialization that is possible and needed in the United States, Gibson said.
“Don’t believe that our best days are behind us,” he told listeners.