Broome County spells out new economic development plan

Courtesy of Tom LIbous
December 13, 2013

It’s been 50 years since Broome County has had an economic development plan.  But that’s about to change.  The county legislature is scheduled to vote on a new plan next week.

The 326-page plan details specific ways to improve Broome County. The ideas include a new high-tech incubator in Downtown Binghamton and development of the natural beauty of the area.

Chief Planner for Broome County, Frank Evangelisti, says first and foremost the county needs a stronger brand.  He says that from IBM to Binghamton University, innovation has always been part of Broome County’s history. 

“I don’t see why that can’t continue to be our brand.  But I don’t think we’ve done enough to expand and exploit that and represent that.”

The county wants to create innovation districts in Binghamton, Endicott, and Johnson City.  In those districts, local officials will come up with their own plans for economic development.

“It’s your own incentive program.  It’s not something you’re applying to Albany hoping that you get approved for funding.  You come up with what you think the community needs and really try to develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the downtowns.”

Urban blight is another target.  Spread across the county are abandoned industrial buildings. The pollution left behind makes renovation difficult.

“We talk about how to go after those sites and renovate or demolish them when need be.”

But while the region may be struggling and many businesses have left, Evangelisti keeps an optimistic tone.

“I really want Broome County to be cool and innovative.  And a place where people are proud to say that they’re from and they’re proud to say this is where I grew up and this is where I live and they’re excited about.”

Evangelisti predicts an easy approval by the county legislature next week.