By DUSTIN SWANGER
For The Recorder
The CEO Roundtable is comprised of CEOs, officers, plant managers and other high-level representatives from companies and large employers in our area. These business leaders meet regularly to discuss how to grow the region, create jobs, and foster economic prosperity. It is the firm belief of the CEO Roundtable that the Fulton-Montgomery region has a lot to offer and can truly be a region of economic growth. However, in order to take advantage of opportunities to grow:
We must create a business friendly region;
We must think as a region;
We must market as a region;
We must collaborate as a region, and;
We must remove regional barriers for companies who want to create jobs.
Gone are the days when cities, villages, towns and even counties can isolate themselves and develop an economy for the future. As Mike Mullis presented during his visit to our region, those municipalities who are not thinking regionally, are not getting noticed by site selectors. Only by pooling resources and sharing revenues can we compete in a global market.
As a region we must grow. We must provide a climate where companies and businesses can expand. We must attract new businesses to our area. We must attract new residents to our area. It is only through growth that we can stabilize, and perhaps lower, our tax rates. Continuing to think as we have in the past and operating as if we need only be concerned with what is happening within our municipal borders will impede progress and place our region in peril.
It is with this dedication to regional growth that the CEO Roundtable invited some of the candidates in the upcoming election to a breakfast meeting to discuss regional thinking. Invitations were sent to the candidates for county executive in Montgomery County, candidates for mayor in Gloversville, and candidates for mayor in Johnstown. These are key positions in the upcoming elections. It is important that the business leaders of the CEO Roundtable understand where these candidates stand regarding regional thinking.
It is not the intention of the CEO Roundtable to endorse or disparage any candidate. However, it became clear that some candidates understand the need for regional thinking while others do not. Some candidates understand that if the region grows then so will their cities; others do not. All of the candidates said that they would look for collaborative relationships in our area. Some are more believable than others.
As with any election, the public has a choice of their candidate for the future. We, of the CEO Roundtable, will not be so bold as to request your vote for one candidate over the other. However, we do ask that you consider your belief in regional growth.
Do you believe that if the region grows so will your city or town?
Do you want to see jobs develop here?
Do you want to see the opportunities for social interactions and recreational activities expanded?
Do you want to see your taxes lowered while improving public services?
Do you want to see people move to our region and develop an economy that is resilient?
Do you want to create a place where your children can live, work and prosper near you?
If you do, then regional thinking and regional growth is the only answer.
Ask your candidates how they will grow the region and how they will collaborate with other area governments to create a business friendly environment. Ask them if they are elected, what they will do differently from what has been done; because what has been done in the past is not working fast enough for our future. Then vote for the candidate who can answer those tough questions.
Most importantly, vote.
DUSTIN SWANGER is president of Fulton-Montgomery Community College. The CEO Roundtable is comprised of business leaders in Fulton and Montgomery counties who gather regularly to discuss local issues in the hope that by taking a leadership position these issues can be resolved in a manner that is positive to the business community and the community at large.