Pulling On Our Bootstraps


We are fortunate at WSKG Public Broadcasting that we can know exactly how the audience we serve is doing economically.  By coincidence the New York State Department of Labor’s monthly report on the Southern Tier job market and employment prospects fairly duplicates the New York part of our service area.  Without too much strain we can tell how many of our listeners and viewers are working and what they’re doing.  For the last few years the news hasn’t always been good.  During a period of national economic growth in the 1990s upstate New York and especially the Southern Tier, the Triple Cities and Elmira-Corning area was going through its own recession.

Now there is worldwide concern about a decline in economic activity that is more than simply cyclical.  Banking and finance policies have proven to be faulty, mortgage and business lending is overextended.  But in an ironic twist that could serve as a caution about reading all statistics, as things were going into a tailspin at the end of 2008 a Moody’s Economy report said the Binghamton area was in “expansion”.  This was due in part to the continuing defense-related work at Lockheed-Martin and other high tech employers.  But the main reason we looked so good from the outside is that the region had already lost thousands of jobs and businesses.

The Southern Tier has a lot going for it, and historically has enjoyed a higher degree of prosperity and stability than other parts of the United States.  As the nation and the world search for ways to start growing again, people in this region look to the potential in our own people and resources.  National and state economic recovery plans are certainly welcome, but there’s much that can be done to, as the old saying has it, pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.  (A common rejoinder to that nostrum is that many people don’t have any boots to speak of, or that the shoestrings have been frayed.  The act also seems to defy the laws of gravity.  But everyone gets the idea).

To examine the potential for growth generated within our own region, WSKG Public Radio is presenting “Pulling On Our Bootstraps” a live and interactive “Community Conversation” to gather ideas and answer questions about reviving the regional economy.  What talents, facilities and visions can be tapped?  What needs remain to be filled? Joining WSKG’s Bill Jaker will be:

Diana Bendz, a retired IBM executive and president of the Southern Tier Opportunity Coalition [their website has links to dozens of other local, state and national business assistance sites].
Douglas Gulotty, president and CEO of Wilber National Bank. The Oneonta-based bank has recently expanded throughout Central New York.
Kenneth W. “Kenny” Christianson, a member of the board of Alternatives Federal Credit Union in Ithaca and a lecturer in economics at Binghamton University.
Douglas Boyce, Regional Director of the Small Business Development Center at Binghamton University.