SEEC identified priority initiatives known as Business Retention & Expansion, Destination Building, Industry & Talent Attraction and defining Targeted Value Add Investments. Not only will the programs redefine our communities, the efforts will cultivate a County-wide economic development leadership Alliance representing municipalities, agencies, businesses and community investors. The Alliance works cooperatively to highlight local assets that will establish Schoharie County as integral to three different regional marketplaces (Mohawk Valley, Capital District MSA and Southern Tier Appalachian Region) and celebrate “points of light” in our communities.
SEEC Programs are grounded in the Schoharie Strategy:
The COVID crisis caused us to rethink our daily lives and to reimagine our future. In doing so, SEEC Advisors studied best practices across the nation that inspired our economic development programs as we seek a “new normal” and deeper commitment to resiliency. In 2022, SEEC reshaped its priorities to focus on:
Digital Strategies, 21st century economy
The COVID-19 pandemic shifted much of today’s shopping and consumer engagement to online platforms. Our goal is to power local businesses, enabling enterprises to upgrade to 21st century infrastructure and internal systems so they can become more resilient and support orders from the community and beyond, their storefront opened or closed.
SEEC, in cooperation with Schoharie County Office of Community Planning, has secured a grant that will fund local business owners’ access to professional marketing agencies, digital strategist and technical specialists from around the region to learn, innovate, and further develop their online presence and e-commerce experience. The local Digital Strategies Initiative was conceived early 2021, after nationwide research and modeling best practices. D2B is one component of a four-level SEEC-driven, County-wide Digital Strategy to create access to: broadband infrastructure, innovation zones, innovations hubs and provide small business assistance.
Village of Schoharie residents with the business, municipal, and academic community came together on February 16 for a fun ceremony to symbolically press the button that activated the Free Wifi for the Village of Schoharie.
Funded through NYS Homes and Community Renewal using Community Development Block Grant – Coronavirus Relief Funds (CDBG-CV), the Schoharie Village WiFi Network provides open internet access available to more than 400 households and 800 residents, a majority of whom are low-to-moderate income.
The WiFi project advances Schoharie County 21st Century infrastructure priorities and digital literacy in direct response to the Coronavirus crisis. The Free WiFi Network is a demonstration project in the Schoharie County Digital Revolution, an initiative formed to enhance resilience and improve the local economy.
Over the last decade, residents in the Village of Schoharie and small businesses were over-burdened with climate and public health disaster declarations due to Hurricane Irene, Topical Storm Lee and the Coronavirus pandemic. The New York State Office of Homes and Community Renewal funding enables families in the underserved Village of Schoharie to ward off severe impacts of another pandemic or declared disaster. Benefits include:
- Providing free internet access for remote education and telehealth services;
- Maintaining socialization and soft skill, emotional or intellectual development which may continue to occur in the digital realm despite what may be happening in the physical world; and
- Utilizing outdoor public spaces to live, work and play.
Schoharie County is poised for a digital revolution. The federal government passed the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to close many of the remaining high speed broadband gaps nationwide. Mobilizing Schoharie County American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, a broadband impact report and a refreshed 2015 broadband feasibility study have been summarized below. The goal is to achieve 100% broadband access in Schoharie County by 2027.
Industrial Strategies, accommodating supply chain adjustments and emerging enterprises
Revisiting old reports and seeking new solutions, the Regional Independent Food Processing feasibility study is funded, in part, by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). The initiative is based on the premise that consumer behavior pivots and supply chain weaknesses uncovered during the pandemic combine to create greater urgency in developing and supporting regional processing facilities. The project goal is to identify the resources needed to support independent dairy and food processing that provides more flexibility, better prices for farmers, more direct distribution to consumers and highlights local and regional sources of food supplies.
Farm and Food Advisory Council Members:
Jim Barber | Barber’s Farm, Owner; Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schoharie Otsego Counties
Taylor Bogardus | Schoharie Central Schools; FFA Advisor
Seth Browe | SUNY Cobleskill Institute for Rural Vitality; National Professional Agricultural Student Organization
Ann Diefendorf | Dairy Farmer
Scott Ferguson | Executive Director, Institute for Rural Vitality, SUNY Cobleskill
Deb Fletcher | Cobleskill-Richmondville Central Schools, Agriculture teacher/FFA Advisor
Todd Heyn | New York Farm Bureau – CNY
Shelly Johnson-Bennett | Delaware County Planning and Watershed Affairs Department
Desiree Keever | Otsego County
Bill Kuhl | Carver Companies
Julie Pacatte | Schoharie Economic Enterprise Corporation, Executive Director
Dorothy Richter | Southern Tier 8, Regional Development Analyst II
Sarah Salem | Hudson Valley Food System Coalition, Founder; Dutchess Outreach, Director of Development; Councilmember At-Large, Chair, City of Poughkeepsie Common Council
Phoebe Schreiner | Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship (CADE), Executive Director
Duane Spaulding | Business Plan Consultant
Nan Stolzenburg | Community Planning & Environmental Associates, Principal; Proud Castle Farm (Dairy), Owner
Alicia Terry | Gilboa Town Supervisor; Schoharie County Board of Supervisors
Myron Thurston III, MBA, CFRE | Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County, Food Supply Chain Marketing Specialist
John VanDerwerken | Schoharie County Farm Bureau, President
Marilyn Wyman | Cornell Cooperative Extension Schoharie and Otsego Counties, Interim Executive Director
Amanda Clark | Schoharie County, Agriculture Development Specialist
Through CARES Act funding, Mohawk Valley Economic Development District and Schoharie County Stakeholders are working cooperatively to develop marketable concepts and considering unique public-private investment models that will attract the shifting supply chain to viable sites.
While 65 featured real estate sites are top of mind in the County along Interstate-88 and the State Route 7 corridor, more detailed market studies with MRB and Elan consultants will fine tune the effort and conceptualize site development. SEEC is on the leadership team directing the initiative.
The Opportunity Exchange (TOE) is a nation-wide platform connecting regions to investors of various development projects, our associates at Southern Tier 8 invited TOE to the table.
The eight-county region has 19 federally-designated Opportunity Zones, areas offering tax incentives for transformative investments. SEEC is working along with the IDA and Schoharie County officials to list projects and featured real estate sites on the Opportunity Zone portal, for example: STEAM157 in Schoharie, Klinkhart Hall Arts Center in Sharon Springs, and Empire State Greenhouses proposed for Cobleskill.
Investors nation-wide now have access to each project profile in addition to a community profile of Schoharie County.
Schoharie County has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the lease, purchase or redevelopment of a 6.7 acre property – proposals due April 29, 2022.
This unique 6.7-acre site with approximately 80,000 square feet of block masonry building is prime for rehabilitation and conversion.
Located in the County Seat, Village of Schoharie, STEAM 157 is steps away from the Schoharie Creek Trail, Schoharie Valley Railroad Museum and area rich in history dating back to the late 18th Century. Once known as the ‘Breadbasket of the American Revolution’, this Village commercial property is walkable to the Main Street Historic District, County services and recreational amenities.
Envisioned as a mixed-use campus, STEAM 157 is a loose concept to establish a business incubator or accelerator model known as Science Technology Engineering Agriculture & Math at 157 Depot Lane, Village of Schoharie, New York.
Conceivably, STEAM 157 will bridge the County’s high caliber primary education and applied science at SUNY Cobleskill with regional assets. Schoharie is 26 minutes from the Capital Region clean energy cluster and bookend by SUNY Polytechnic Nano Tech’s $26 billion investments.
Main Street Developments, investing in place and connectivity
Schoharie Economic Enterprise Corporation (SEEC) announced the relocation of its headquarters to 287 Main Street in Schoharie, New York. Bank of America donated the entire building to SEEC based upon the ongoing commitment to continue to foster economic growth in Schoharie County and the aspiration to utilize the space as a foundation to bring a 21st century economy to life.
287 Main will house SEEC’s business headquarters, collaborative 21st century work environment, robust programming as an innovation hub, all complementing SEEC’s mission to foster economic prosperity.
Safe Access to School & Hamlet Business District, CDBG Public Facilities $300,000 Grant Award
Walkability and connecting community institutions and the business district by foot, bike or car has proven to stimulate community and economic development. The Town of Jefferson, in collaboration with the Schoharie Economic Enterprise Corp (SEEC), submitted a $300,000 Public Facilities Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) request on March 5, 2021, and proactively issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to identify an engineer of record. The grant award letter was received on May 18, 2021.
The awarded CDBG Public Facilities grant is slated to address traffic calming, accessibility, and storm water issues along Route 10 between the Jefferson Central School and the Town Green. Five engineering firms responded to the RFQ and will be eligible to assist the Town with long-term asset management planning.
The Main Street centerpiece, a boutique hotel with over 150 years of storied history, sat vacant for nearly a decade after devastating floods washed away its luster. Fortunately, new owners are ready to polish the jewel and return it to its former glory.
A $2M renovation is underway funded, in part, by Empire State Development. The Village received numerous grant awards for building reinvestment. SEEC is assisting the private owners and Village take advantage of the grant funding. Stay tuned for more updates on this project.
The USDA Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge (RPIC) provides planning support, technical assistance, and training to encourage placemaking activities in rural communities. Funds can be used to help rural communities develop placemaking plans to boost broadband capacity and access, preserve cultural and historic structures, and support the development of transportation, housing, and recreational spaces.
The Village, SEEC and the Mohawk Valley Economic Development District are working collaboratively to secure grant support that will launch the model initiative in Schoharie County.