January 20, 2021
Planning for 2021 can be little more than groping in the dark. Nobody knows how long the pandemic will last or its economic impact because nobody’s ever been here before. Yet SEEC––Schoharie Economic Enterprise Corporation––is plowing ahead with plans for the new year. Realize, however, that these plans aren’t pie-in-the-sky but instead are grounded in reality and the times we’re in right now. SEEC formed a couple of years ago as a public-private outfit to spur economic development but switched to help businesses survive when the pandemic hit last year. It was a necessary move and a realistic one; the prospect of existing businesses failing left and right wasn’t pleasant. SEEC’s Resiliency grants gave businesses and non-profits a lift, and similar help will continue––a sign that SEEC realizes business retention is just as important as business development. SEEC Executive Director Julie Pacatte outlined more last week: Seeking grants to create distribution of farm products, starting a fund to aid expanding businesses, and further developing the Eagle Trail to boost tourism. All of these are clear-eyed plans for attainable goals rather than trying to attract a huge employer ready to move here. That’s not happening in 2021. Most interesting to us is that Ms. Pacatte is tracking newcomers from urban areas who want to live in a beautiful county and now can; because of COVID-19, they can work at home. Identifying professionals who’ve made the move, Ms. Pacatte observed, “We think there’s a lot of talent there. How can we take advantage of their skills and knowledge?” This is the kind of thinking that makes SEEC unique. Instead of crying about the times and conditions, Ms. Pacatte and SEEC are taking advantage of them. SEEC will get back to its original economic-development strategy when this cruel pandemic is over. In the meantime, SEEC morphed into a pragmatic form that accounts for what’s actually going on. Such a change can only be beneficial for 2021.