Supervisors agree with outsider’s view
By MICHAEL ANICH
JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County officials on Monday embraced a site selector’s message from last week that municipalities need to work together in a regional way to boost the local economy.
Members of the Board of Supervisors addressed Thursday and Friday’s visit by international site selector Michael Mullis. The consultant from Memphis, Tenn., was brought to Fulton and Montgomery counties local economic development agencies to independently evaluate the area’s strengths and weaknesses.
Mullis later told local officials: “You can’t market a county, you have to market a region.” He also indicated he liked the former Tryon Detention Center property in the towns of Perth and Johnstown, which Fulton County wants to turn into a technology park.
“If you want economic development companies to move into this area, you have to have a regional concept,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman William Waldron of Johnstown.
He said he agreed with Mullis’ assessment that cooperation is needed on service issues involving local sewer, water , planning, solid waste and permitting. Waldron said it is a “positive” that Mullis thought the Tryon site was “excellent.”
“There were a lot of good takeaways and there were a few negatives,” Perth Supervisor Greg Fagan said of Mullis’ visit.
Fagan noted Mullis found the region to be attractive, but the cities and towns “need to break down the barriers.”
“I think we’ve got a good opportunity,” he said. “We’ve got a very narrow window, five or six years.”
Gloversville 2nd Ward Supervisor Frank Lauria Jr. said municipalities need to work with local planning boards and “don’t make it difficult” for business to move into the area. He said the city of Gloversville “did work together” with the city of Johnstown in the early 1990s to extend its then-state-designated economic development zone to Johnstown.
“It’s [about] jobs, jobs, jobs,” Lauria stressed.
County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said there are areas where the region has already “started” acting cooperatively.
“We have a number of initiatives headed down the right track, the right way,” he said.
Gloversville 1st Ward Supervisor Marie Born said thinking actually has to be “statewide, not just in our little region.”
“We need to put aside the petty politics and work together,” said Northampton Supervisor Linda Kemper. “That doesn’t play in any regional development.”
Kemper said Mullis also “pushed” that technology opportunities will be a catalyst in kickstarting the region’s economy.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at email@example.com.