By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO September 10, 2004 New ideas at the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development are crystallizing via Germany, via MasterCard.
Heinrich Strauch officially took on duties as vice president of the partnership last month. He assumes the former duties of Marc Baez, who replaced Michael Sullivan as president.
Strauch is a native of Germany, who spent over four years as a vice president in global licensing and sales for MasterCard.
He faces the task of recruiting and instituting economic development to a county in transition.
As he said himself, So much is going on in Sullivan County.
Strauch has been working with prospective businesses as well as with Sullivan County Planning and Community Development Commissioner Bill Pammers Sullivan 2020 program, gathering opinions from residents throughout the county on how they wish to see the county grow and how they would like to preserve it. Strauch believes those conclusions will be instrumental in the way the partnership targets development.
Strauch said he is impressed with the environmental attractiveness of the county. He said its natural beauty is what caused him to move here full-time. Until last year, he was a part-time resident for four years.
This is the last treasure, he said of Sullivan County in relation to New York City.
Most other areas within a similar distance of the city are densely populated, he said. The space and hills of the county remind him of his hometown of Germany, absent the Baltic Sea.
Strauch foresees an increase in cultural tourism to the area. The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts will be the cornerstone of this new development, in his estimation. The additional developments will grow around Bethel Woods, he predicted.
The new vice president sees pre-approved or shovel-ready sites as part of the continuing development of the county. He believes sites like the Emerald Corporate Center in Rock Hill, where companies want their developments to be located, will speed up the process.
He, like others, would like to see busy and hustling main streets. But they wont last if there is nobody to support them, he said. The main street shopping will be the product of healthy growth, he said.
That healthy growth excludes chemical factories, explained Strauch. The majority of the county would not accept such an industry, he said.
What do they want? Strauch repeated only that he is eagerly awaiting the results of Sullivan 2020.
In the meantime, Strauch said he is currently working with prospective small business, including restaurants and stores.
He described his job, as well as the partnership, as standing by the side of business to make their case to commercial lenders and local governments.
These are people that have great ideas, he said of the merchants. We make it possible for them to realize these dreams. We give them access.
(The Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development is funded by the county, state and privately.)
Strauch said he has seen amazing changes in the county over the last four years. In particular, he noted the new restaurants and retail outlets. The speed at which those changes occurred are astonishing to him.
Strauch believes the area is changing from a summer destination to a flourishing year-round community.
He for one, does not surmise that the reason is the potential for casinos. You cant bank on it, he concluded.