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PRESS RELEASE

Optional Op-Ed/Media Release
Date: 06.07.2011
To: State-wide Newspapers, TV and Radio
Subject: City/Town Economic Development Council to be proposed

For immediate release:
Could the Two Oneontas Finally Become Trendsetters in Economic Development?

Read this article on the Observer Today website

Back in March, in Oneonta, NY, Advocates for the Merging of Upstate Communities [AMUC] was born after more than a year of study and research. It was co-founded by two local residents, Bill Shue and Al Colone, and based on the deep belief the current structure of government in upstate NY is one of the great impediments to economic growth throughout the region.

Subsequent to the groups founding, two organizational and two Oneonta business leaders' meetings were convened and it didn't take long to come to the realization that entrenched attitudes locally would severely challenge any effort to immediately advance the consolidation of the City and Town of Oneonta. Shue and Colone had recommended the establishment of an intergovernmental relations council, jointly authorized, to begin the long process towards investigating the pros and cons of merging. That idea was presented at the initial business leaders' session in late April at which business leaders from the Town of Oneonta advised that if this proposed council could be specifically charged and limited to the promotion of economic development within the Greater Oneonta Area; that might be something the Oneonta Town Board could support.

At the May 25th business leaders' meeting, Shue and Colone released a draft resolution on setting-up a Greater Oneonta Economic Development Council [GOEDC] and introduced significant discussion on the matter. A vision for the Greater Oneonta Area followed. The consensus was that in the immediate future, the economic development council should promote local economic growth that would result in better paying jobs, solid employment, more expendable income to purchase goods and services locally, adequate housing needs for people employed by businesses in the Town and City of Oneonta. Further, it was agreed that growth of private sector jobs, coupled with tying entrepreneurship ventures with our public institutions would lead to a more prosperous, diverse area to do business. This would take a focused approach by the Town and City of Oneonta working side by side as a team in the form of a Greater Oneonta Economic Development Council.

The economic development council envisioned by Shue, Colone and others would be made-up of area business leaders; five members appointed by Town Supervisor Wood and five by Mayor Miller. The council membership should reflect a cross section of business representation ranging from manufacturing, retail, energy, agribusiness, health care, education, tourism, construction, transportation and other business sectors. This new council, to be formally presented this month to both City and Town governments, would urge immediate approval and that council members be named and seated for its first organizational session sometime in late September 2011.

It must be noted, the two-point resolution that will be introduced by Colone and Shue to the Town Board and the City of Oneonta Common Council calling for establishing a Greater Oneonta Economic Development Council requires no financial investment by either municipality. That, in itself is a win-win for all residents and business owners within the Town and City of Oneonta.

Major factors discussed at the last meeting of the group that could get the community on a more diversified and solid economic footing are as follows:

• Retention and expansion of existing small businesses
• More aggressive recruitment of targeted, complimentary and compatible industries
• A simultaneous phase-in of single family residential housing in sink with population growth
• Promoting the greater community as the best small college town in America
• To formulate a master plan towards making the Greater Oneonta Area a major "travel hub" for upstate NY built around promotion of sport and the arts; both with regionally significant appeal.

Without a doubt, municipalities that choose to merge and consolidate, or jointly plan as well as sharing services that mutually benefit those cooperative municipalities, will be on the cutting edge of success. Those that don't - won't. It is our firm belief that a Greater Oneonta Economic Development Council would strengthen economic growth throughout the Town and City of Oneonta. To deny the need for the existence of such a Council would be unwise. People in our area are looking for hope for a brighter future. Let's be known for being wise. Come together, Town and City of Oneonta and adopt the resolution forming the Greater Oneonta Economic Development Council.

We encourage the Town and City of Oneonta to be trendsetters. The potential for the Town and City of Oneonta to be a model for joint municipal planning and development is within grasp. Let's not have this opportunity slip through our fingers because too much is at stake.

By Bill Shue and Al Colone,
Co-founders of Advocates for the Merging of Upstate Communities [AMUC]

For more information on forming a Greater Oneonta Economic Development Council, contact Bill Shue and Al Colone by email at: albert@colassoc.com or by phone at 607-432-4057