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Economic Development Corp. Suspending Operations May 31

OEDC Chairman Mike Schoppe said a lack of funding will bring operations to a halt at month's end.

The Oswego Economic Development Corp., a longtime staple of the village's efforts to lure new businesses to town, will suspend operations May 31.

The OEDC board voted 11-1 at a Thursday special meeting to suspend operations May 31 due to a lack of funding. According to a Friday afternoon news release from OEDC Chairman Mike Schoppe, the group's four employees, including Director Michael Cassa, will be laid off effective that day. 

The Village Board voted April 19 to suspend its $85,000 annual commitment to the OEDC in order to study bringing economic development efforts under the auspices of the village. The board then voted May 3 to pay the OEDC what trustees believed the village owed the OEDC for its 2011 commitment through the end of May—$35,000.

However, it was later discovered by village staff that the village had paid its OEDC commitment through April 30 of this year in May 2010. Interim Village Administrator Dwight Baird said Friday afternoon that he then decided, with the consent of Village President Brian LeClercq, to pay the OEDC the money owed to it for May. That came to $7,083.33, Baird said.

Schoppe said the ODEC has not been dissolved nor has the Oswego Visitor's Bureau, which is funded through local hotel/motel tax revenue paid through the village. 

What this news means for the short-term future of economic development is a matter of debate. The Village Board has yet to determine what should be done in terms of economic development, and hiring a full-time economic development employee could take months, according to a report submitted by Baird to the Village Board May 3.

"If we're not able to provide economic development services to the village beyond May 31, I think it will hurt the village's continued economic development efforts," Schoppe said. 

LeClercq said he has faith village staff won't allow economic development opportunities fall through the cracks in the interim. 

"This village is and always will be open for business," he said. "If anyone comes along with a good business idea, we'll be happy to entertain it."

LeClercq said the OEDC has provided years of good service to the community, but the current Village Board majority wants to try a new approach.

"I think everyone wants what's best for the village," he said. "This is the path that this board has chosen. I'll be real interested to see what comes next."

Tina Conley May 15, 2011 at 06:46 PM
See ya at the next meeting Jessie ;)
Jane Enviere May 15, 2011 at 07:08 PM
I don't support taking the OEDC function in-house, but I do feel that what exactly they do is a mystery, to a large degree. Their website tells you next to nothing. I'd love to see a report on how they work to attract businesses, what busineses over the past 5 years have come here directly related to OEDC efforts (as in the business wasn't already looking at us, or didn't just approach the OEDC for demographic info, etc.), etc. People, not just the village leadership, ought to be able to find some of this information out without attending meetings constantly. It's silly to expect that people attend every single meeting of every single committee, etc., to get information on what is happening. And that always seems to be the mantra on these things. I remember reading something in The Beacon about the OEDC a long time ago (as in prior to the most recent election and this issue, etc.) and Googling and finding almost no info online other than the website (largely useless) and a LinkedIn page for the director and it didn't look like he was very connected on there, which seemed odd, given the nature of the position. Kind of like the website -- shouldn't that have a lot more information on it - if not for community members then for the businesses interested in the area? I would like to see more communication and opportunities for us to hear/learn more about what they are doing. Maybe that comes out of this, at least.
Carol Anaski-Figurski May 15, 2011 at 10:30 PM
We are living in exciting times where changes can be embraced. Iwould like to see the bright minds of our youth organize a student commitee for OEDC and perhaps it can be taught inthe schools cooperatrive careers program. Perhaps they would be able to arrange a sponsor thru the gaming industry or pepsi refresh project to meet the needsof the community.
Jessie Okayama May 16, 2011 at 05:03 PM
Jim, Thank you for the links. I agree completely with Jane. I can't even think of anything else to add.
Tina Conley May 16, 2011 at 11:53 PM
I hope they consider buying supplies for the Village of Oswego in Oswego... http://www.oswegoil.org/agenda-pdfs/2011.05.17revisedspvb[1].pdf

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