Alicia Terry is the Director of Planning for Schoharie County Planning and Development. Ms. Terry describes the mission of Planning and Development as having several functions of interest and importance to new or relocating business. The agency provides technical assistance to towns, villages and the county on land use issues and other local regulation issues or development of comprehensive plans and zoning issues.
“Another primary mission,” says Terry, “is working with businesses to develop their projects, whether they’re looking to expand or relocate into the county. We have the unique privilege of being both the Planning and Development Agency, which means we have insights that we can share with the businesses as well as with the communities as they work toward a common goal of managed growth and development.”
When asked to elaborate on the current state of the County’s economic development, Ms. Terry describes it as “definitively, in a growth mode. But not,” she qualifies, “a traditional mode.”
“Most people believe that growth will occur when you see large development or large employers coming in. With the exception of a big box retailer, most of our growth is actually in small business, with many entrepreneurs. We have a very strong entrepreneurial training program and a micro-enterprise lending program, both of which are heavily utilized. We see many people who had worked for a corporation or worked in a government setting deciding to strike out on their own and start their own business. So, we’re really seeing a boom in small business in our county.”
Ms. Terry attributes the increase in new business to a unique partnership of county agencies and institutions that provide entrepreneurs with a solid foundation for success through education in business fundamentals, especially as they apply to the local economy.
“The entrepreneurial program is a partnership between SUNY Cobleskill, the Schoharie County Planning and Development Agency, The Schoharie County Industrial Development Agency and the Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce. These partners got together five years ago to start a program that would provide one night a week (for twelve weeks in the fall and spring) of training and insights for small businesses. There are programs on how to prepare your business plan, understanding business financials, marketing your business, and using the internet or developing a web site for a business. There are programs on tax requirements. We bring folks out from the IRS and from New York State Department of Tax and Finance so that business people can avoid some of the pitfalls that might occur because they just didn’t know what was required – whether it was before they hired somebody or before they opened their door.”
But, Ms. Terry adds, it’s not just the county’s economic development partnerships that have led to Schoharie’s current boom in new business start-ups and relocations. It’s the very geography of the county itself.
“Physically, we’re in a great geographic location. We are within easy commuting distance from the Capitol District. We are within an easy drive from the metropolitan New York area. And we have Interstate 88 that transects our county with four exchanges.”
“There are so many counties that would just die to have one exchange off an interstate, and we’ve got four.”
Beyond the county’s geography and its various business support partnerships, Ms. Terry is excited at the potential of several recent developments which she feels will offer even more incentive and assistance to new business. They include the development of an incubator for small businesses in the village of Cobleskill. She credits the Cobleskill Partnership, Inc. with taking the lead on that, with plans to open its doors within the next year (2006-07).
Perhaps most exciting for Ms. Terry and the economic leadership of the county has been New York State’s recent award of an Empire Zone.
For more information about that new development or for answers to any other questions you may have regarding making Schoharie County home to your business, call (518) 234-3751 or visit them on-line at www.schohariebiz.com.
To hear the entire interview with Alicia Terry, click below.