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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

"Open for Business"

ALBANY, Oct. 3 -- ”New York can rise again,” was the theme of former President Bill Clinton’s keynote address to kick off last week’s “NY Open for Business” economic summit at the state capital. The former president’s words, ranging from inspirational to informative, sounded the right note at a time when New York State endeavors to rebuild, reenergize and regain economic strongholds in the global economy.

In short, the economic summit left many of us who attended and participated in last week’s conference eager to get out of our seats, up on our feet and right to work turning words into realities. So for those of you who may not have seen the coverage of last week’s conference, I think it’s worthwhile to review some of what took place there, put it into the larger context of what it signals for the year ahead in New York government and, finally, share a few of my own impressions as a conference participant.

The September 27th conference was convened by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who from the very first day of his administration has stressed the goal of “jobs, jobs, jobs.” It marked the first time the state’s 10 Regional Economic Development Councils met together to explore local solutions and share new ideas on private-sector economic growth and job creation. These councils were established as part of the 2011-2012 state budget and are currently at work in regions across the state, including the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, developing local economic strategies that will compete for state economic development aid.

While the Clinton keynote address spun off on the lofty idea of New York rising again, he also applauded and encouraged the work of the regional councils and even singled out Corning Inc. for its manufacturing commitment and innovation, recounting in some detail the history and modern-day success of Corning’s “Gorilla Glass.” He went on to highlight a series of assets and strengths that he felt were particularly important to New York and that each regional council would do well to focus on: manufacturing exports, the overriding importance of public-private partnerships, innovations and advancements in the energy-related economy, and the promise of higher education. This speaks directly to our region, which can draw on a wealth of these assets, and I considered it a source of renewed hope and renewed energy for the work ahead of us locally.

The conference also featured an early morning announcement by Governor Cuomo of a $4.4-billion public-private computer chip research and development initiative that’s estimated to create and retain upwards of 7,000 jobs across the upstate region and signal New York as a leader in this exciting high-tech field.

In the afternoon, the conference agenda got down to the nut-and-bolts of local economic development through a series of individual panels convened to examine key sectors of the state’s economy in detail, from agribusiness development to venture capital, and from higher education
partnerships to technology. I was invited to help lead a panel discussion titled “Success Stories: Manufacturing.”

Those of us who have spent a lifetime living and working in upstate New York know all too well about manufacturing’s decline. But we also shouldn’t forget that a strong manufacturing sector remains productive, successful and hard at work here. We must stay focused on ways to build on
these strengths and recognize the opportunities that exist for a 21st Century manufacturing foundation in New York State. President Clinton himself noted, for example, the opportunities that abound in exports, an area of competition that’s also been noted in some detail by the research arm of the Business Council of New York (see the report “Let’s Make it Here: Keys to a Manufacturing Resurgence in New York” from the Public Policy Institute at

Anyone interested can find more information on the “Open for Business” initiative and the work of the Regional Economic Development Councils at the following website:

As far as the bigger picture goes, the recent “Open for Business” conference served as an important agenda setter for a 2012 legislative session that many of us hope will be focused like never before on building a stronger state economy and a better business climate. It was an
important and impressive kick off to New York’s renewed and revitalized focus on job creation and private-sector economic growth throughout the year ahead. Now we need to turn ideas and inspiration into the bread-and-butter strategies that will work to turn around our local economies, create jobs, and secure New York’s long-term ability to, in fact, rise again in the competition for economic opportunities here at home, nationally and around the globe.

It’s reassuring to recognize that the economic development professionals, chambers of commerce leaders, and community advocates who have been hard at this work for many years across our region -- and whose efforts have helped us at least hold our own through a whole lot of
economic challenges and crises – remain front and center in the current mission to explore the new ideas and put in place the new initiatives that are going to help us succeed in this new economy.

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara


Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison

Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967

Doris L. Karius, 546-5544

Barbara Halpin, 594-3683

Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385

Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482

Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335

County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133

Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222

Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222

County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181

District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383


State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County

Sen. Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Christopher Friend -- Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
Room 720, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-4538


© The Odessa File 2011
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869