JOHNSTOWN - Fulton County supervisors and economic-development officials say their new private-public partnership should foster a fresh ecomarketing strategy and the sharing of more information in 2013.
"The new marketing agreement lays out a pretty solid start to get back into marketing," said county Administrative Officer Jon Stead. "I think we have to walk before we run."
The CRG - parent company of the Fulton County Economic Development Corp. and the Crossroads Incubator Corp. - and the county last year formed a partnership designed to counter the negativity that resulted from the CRG's 2010 bonus scandal. Federal tax records showed former EDC Senior Vice President Jeff Bray and CIC Executive Vice President Peter A. Sciocchetti received about $1.5 million each in bonuses that their boards of directors later said were not approved.
Perth Supervisor Greg Fagan, right, a new member of the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth Board of Directors, makes a point during a CRG?board meeting Thursday at the Johnstown Professional Office Complex. Looking on at left is CRG Board Chairman Dustin Swanger. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)
The new agreement announced in October at a joint news conference indicated the CRG will eventually dissolve the two agencies it oversees. Officials have said the two agencies are facing financial difficulties, but they are not bankrupt.
The partnership also makes the CRG more accountable to the county, triples the county's taxpayer-funded allocation to the agency to $75,000 for 2013, and allows the appointment of county supervisors to the CRG board.
Starting Jan. 1, the Board of Supervisors has had an increased role in governance of the CRG. For example, the CRG is now required annually to file audited financial statements with the county board chairman. The new marketing agreement includes several other requirements as well, such as having the county's allocation go toward marketing only.
County payments to the CRG will be based on submission of monthly vouchers, similar to the method used by other county-sponsored programs. The CRG assumes the responsibility for administering all loan pools currently administered by the EDC. The CRG also must adopt a balanced 2013 budget and a staffing plan based on realistic revenues.
"The major difference is redirecting the CRG efforts toward marketing Fulton County," said CRG President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Reese.
In the past several years, he said, the CRG has been very involved in redeveloping buildings for future use. But he said the plan is to get into more pure marketing of what the county already has and involve the county more in the process.
"That's the relationship with Fulton County," Reese said.
On Jan. 30, Reese shared the CRG's new Business Development Marketing Plan with the Board of Supervisors. It included:
- $20,000 to the marketing firm Shannon-Rose Design;
-?$12,000 for website/Internet promotion;
-?$12,000 for business site marketing;
-?$11,000 for business recruitment;
-?$10,000 for community development marketing; and
-?$10,000 for grant initiatives.
Also in the board's marketing plan, Reese stressed the board would be looking to make stronger efforts in website promotion, including using more social media.
In February, the CRG board named three new members -Perth Supervisor Greg Fagan, Gloversville 5th Ward Supervisor Michael Ponticello and David Jankowski. The three will serve staggered terms, with Fagan serving a three-year term, Jankowski a two-year term and Ponticello a one-year term. All future terms will be for three years.
Fagan said one of the major initiatives will be to bring business into the former Tryon Detention Center on County Highway 107 in the town of Perth. County government has been working with the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency to get the property's deed turned over from the state to the IDA. Officials want to create a Tryon Technology Park and Incubator Center.
The site would feature nine large sites "shovel-ready" for development.
"I think the biggest goal is to try to gain economic development in the county," Fagan said. "We're got resources we can take advantage of."
Shannon-Rose Design, based in Saratoga Springs, will create and operate a Facebook page and a monthly blog that will keep the public informed about local businesses, economic development projects and local initiatives.
The company also will create individual and CRG profiles on LinkedIn to develop relationships with site selectors, regional developers and commercial realtors. Reese will interact with specialized groups associated with site selectors, regional developers and commercial real estate brokers through the site.
The CRG also plans on holding several conferences to meet face to face with these business officials and an economic development symposium and hospitality training seminar to meet with local elected and public officials and organizations.
Fulton County Board of Supervisors Chairman William Waldron said the impact of this new private-public partnership can't be quantified quite yet.
"This coming year, I'm not aware of anything presently happening that will have a significant impact on the economic development in the area," Waldron said.
But he said the hope is the county and the CRG will now have combined efforts on a "continuing basis" to attract more businesses into the county. Waldron said the county now has a "great" and "positive" contract with the economic development agency moving forward.
He said the CRG still will be a private corporation, but county government will be more in the decision-making loop.
"We're going to know what's going on in the CRG," Waldron said. "Now, we'll know more."
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.