I just finished reading Jason Subik’s timely article in your paper describing the true economic development issue facing both Fulton and Montgomery counties.
His interviews with local business leaders point out a problem that few have recognized (or have been unwilling to admit to) over the years.
There is not, and has not been for some time, a shortage of job openings in our area. There is, however, a lack of people that are willing and able to fill those jobs.
When the unemployment rate reaches five percent in our area, as it usually does, it may as well be at zero. That five percent has never been interested in joining the labor force and never will be.
For as long as I can remember, our local governments have been obsessed with the idea that more taxpayer dollars must be spent on attracting more and more jobs to the area.
I dare say that in Fulton County it is much more than an obsession. It is an addiction. The CRG (aka the IDA, the CIC, the EDC) is the driving force behind several wild schemes such as the Thruway bypass road, a rail line into Johnstown and a regional business mega park.
They hire consultants, site selection experts, and marketing firms to promote the area. How many more millions of local taxpayers dollars will be spent on these and other so-called marketing plans before someone says enough?
The last time I checked, the CRG had over 80 sites available for business development. And so here we are. The CEO roundtable, headed by FMCC President [Dustin] Swanger, agrees that here is a shortage of qualified employees in the area and will begin looking into ways to bring refugees and immigrants into the community to fill the many jobs that now exist.
Is that what now passes for creative economic development?