By Matt Youngfrau
ROCK HILL October 14, 2003 The Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development held its ninth annual meeting at Bernies Holiday Restaurant in Rock Hill on Thursday. More than 225 people attended the annual dinner.
The keynote speaker was United States Senator Charles Schumer.
It is good to be here, Schumer stated. You have done a turnaround. Sullivan County is doing well.
Schumer pointed out that property values are up. Also, there is some progress on gaming, but no real results will come until there is a permanent head of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. Plus he detailed the highs and lows of the economy of the area over the last 40 years.
Times have changed, Schumer pointed out. There is a good work ethic and education in Sullivan County. You have good transportation and good land. You have the best labor force. Many people do not want to leave here, but there are not enough jobs here.
Unlike most everywhere else, Sullivan Countys unemployment is on the decline.
You are ahead for the first time in 25 years, Schumer said. You have a great future. The worst days are behind us. That is not just due to gambling. The next decade will be a good one.
Schumer did offer some advice on what the county needed to do, like keeping taxes down, moving forward on converting Route 17 to Interstate 86, and (even though its not in the county proper) aiding in the development of Stewart International Airport in Newburgh.
Once Schumer left, the slate of officers for the Partnership Board for 2003-2004 were announced. Lew Klugman of Klugman Associates is the Board Chair. The Vice Chair is Jonathan Drapkin of Granite Associates. The Secretary is Suzanne Rhulen-Loughlin of the Frontier Insurance Group, and the Treasurer is Greg Cooper of Cooper, Niemann & Co., LLP. The Immediate Past Chair is agricultural consultant Gerald Skoda.
Before awards were given out, Klugman addressed the troops.
We have a lot of positive developments, Klugman commented. We have the advantage here in Sullivan County. We will not depend on one industry. We have a firm commitment to thoughtful economic development.
We need at least two more industrial parks, Partnership President Michael Sullivan remarked. This board works hard, and they are upstanding people. I am proud to work with them. The future is bright here in Sullivan County.
Garigliano was honored for the dedication he has shown the Partnership, as he represents the Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency (IDA). He has helped to bring new development and increase the economy in the county, said officials.
We have accomplished so much, stated Garigliano. The IDA and the Partnership make things happen. Many projects have flourished. It has been a win-win situation.
The Distinguished Service Award is for extraordinary service to the county. Skoda has served 37 years as the Cornell Cooperative Extension CEO. He served 24 years on the Tri-Valley School Board and, later, on the countys casino advisory board.
This is special because it comes from the very people who do the hard work, Skoda said. The Partnership has come a long way. We have many successes behind us. There will be many more in the future.
The biggest challenge is to get more people involved, Skoda continued. Some that have spoken up are misinformed. They have challenged and lied about projects such as the mushroom factory, Kohls, Calpine, the landfill, and casinos. I want to live to see the casino.
The Walter A. Rhulen Award is for the person who exemplifies extraordinary business expertise, community commitment and service to humanity.
Klugman has been a key part of many community organizations over the years. The award was presented to him by Walters widow, Judy.
I am truly honored, Klugman commented. I have had a long association with the Rhulen family. Over 30 years ago, I started in their organization. My success roots in that. Walter made the community and myself what it is today. It has taken a long time to get to where we are. We are on our way to building a real empire.