SEEC: County's economic efforts now have a name


By Patsy Nicosia

Schoharie County’s economic development efforts now have a name:
SEEC, the Schoharie Economic Enterprise Corporation.
Peter Johnson, secretary for the fledging and now-incorporated organization, updated supervisors’ Economic Development Committee on SEEC Friday.
With Tom Putnam as chair, Eric Stein as treasurer, and Jim Becker and Steve Harris filling out the board, Mr. Johnson said their number one goal in implementing consultant Peter Fairweather’s “Shaping the Way Forward,” plan is hiring an executive director, ideally as soon as June.
At the same time, Mr. Johnson said, SEEC is working to raise $300,000 in individual donations for 2019 and then $500,000 in each subsequent year for the director and staff.
That money will also be used as seed money to finance “a couple of individuals who have good ideas” or who are looking to expand.
It’s important that SEEC forms strong alliances with local banks, Mr. Johnson said.
Additionally, the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region has expanded its range to include Schoharie, Montgomery, and Fulton Counties, with $400,000 for each in Empire State Development monies available, Mr. Johnson said.
Existing pools targeting minority- or woman-owned companies are also possible sources for funding here, he said.
Mr. Johnson said he sees potential for SEEC in the Empire State Greenhouses proposal on SUNY Cobleskill-owned land, especially when it comes to agriculture.
“We have a very vibrant ag sector, he said--something Mr. Fairweather stressed in his report—“with new opportunities.”
In addition to agriculture, Mr. Johnson said SEEC wants to focus initially on rebuilding the downtowns of Schoharie, Cobleskill, and Esperance with lodging and restaurants, something that could serve as anchors.
Another possible role for SEEC down the road might involve becoming part of the county’s tourism efforts, Mr. Johnson said in answer to a question from County Administrator Steve Wilson, “but we haven’t discussed it.”
Local government’s role, Mr. Johnson said in response to a question from Cobleskill Supervisor Leo McAllister, will initially just be one of support.
It’s possible SEEC might eventually look to the county for some sort of financial help, Mr. Johnson said, using Schenectady County’s MetroPlex, which receives 1.75 percent of Schenectady County’s sales tax revenues, as an example.
Schenectady County is very different from Schoharie and SEEC wouldn’t expect that size of a contribution, Mr. Johnson said, “but maybe think about that…We want to see some movement, but let’s see how we do on our own first. It looks good.”
“If someone’s interested in Schoharie County, we want them to be met with a universal embrace,” Mr. Johnson added. “[People] who have a crazy idea that when you look at it, makes sense and need a little money. Are there people in Schoharie County who think about these things? There probably are.”
Anyone with ideas—crazy or not—can email Mr. Johnson at