August 13, 2011


Group floats ideas to boost economy

Local brainstorming session of CNY economic council focuses on infrastructure, tourism, taxes

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — For Marietta Chief Financial Officer Perry Morgan, it is the possibility of getting an upgraded wastewater treatment facility for the city of Cortland.
For dairy farmer Mike McMahon, it is about improving broadband access so dairy farmers can operate their robotic milkers.
For Al Kryger, president of Greek Peek Mountain Resorts, it is about looking for ways to market Central New York as a four-season tourist destination.
Representatives from 30 businesses, local municipalities and nonprofit organizations came together Friday to discuss different strategies and opportunities for economic development in Cortland and Central New York. The meeting provided the group with a blank slate to pitch ideas, talk about the region’s assets and identify areas where they need help.
The meeting was organized for the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council, one of 10 groups set up across New York state competing for $200 million in state funds.
“This is a good start,” Kryger said, adding he was optimistic Cortland could do some projects with the state money.
How much money comes to Central New York and Cortland remains to be seen. The four councils that present the best plans to the state will get $40 million each for economic development projects. The remaining six groups will split a pot of $40 million.
The 10 councils have to submit their economic development proposals to the state by Nov. 14, with the winners being selected in December. Garry VanGorder, executive director of the Cort-land County Business Development Corporation, county Legislature Chairman Jack Williams and city Mayor Susan Feiszli are among the 29 people on the council.
The group of local businessmen, politicians and nonprofits met at the Country Inns & Suites on Route 281. Similar meetings are taking place in the other four counties represented in the council — Cayuga, Onondaga, Madison and Oswego.
The group identified five overarching opportunities for growth in Cortland. They were: Business and Industrial development, infrastructure development, education, quality of life, and the number of buildings available for commercial use.
The group also came up with potential strategies and resources for the plan, which included reducing business costs through cuts in taxes and mandates, and investing in local infrastructure and tourism. Another strategy related to working with Central New York colleges to retain more students for the local workforce and developing programs that encourage entrepreneurship.
During the meeting, McMahon said farmers have to follow numerous regulations to do simple tasks like spreading manure. He added that improving broadband access in the region would help local dairy farmers because they need the service to operate their milkers.
Kryger added that Central New York needs to find creative ways to promote itself as a tourist destination.
“I think this is a tremendous opportunity for us,” Kryger said.
VanGorder said the ideas from the meeting would be compared with ideas from the other counties represented in the Central New York council to determine the types of projects to pursue.


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