Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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October 4th, 2012

Advising On a New Comprehensive Plan

The Sullivan County legislature, through public grant dollars, recently hired Wadley-Donovan Growthtech to provide economic development analysis and planning services related to the creation of yet another comprehensive strategic plan for Sullivan County.

Although we have seen plan after plan detailing strategy after strategy this new one might just click.

Unlike plans from the past, Wadley-Donovan Growthtech’s mission will identify recommendations from prior plans and provide specific recommendations for the implementation of viable economic growth.

Last week, thanks to the suggestion of legislator Cora Edwards, they took their mission to the road seeking input from Sullivan County residents. Two meetings were held simultaneously in Monticello and Liberty. I attended the Liberty meeting, and although the crowd could have been larger, the passion and commitment coming from those in attendance was noteworthy and energizing.

The audience, filled with community leaders, elected officials, and everyday taxpayers listened intently as Bill Fredrick discussed in detail his company’s assignment. Everyone in attendance was eager to offer their two cents as to what they felt was needed to improve Sullivan County’s economic conditions.

It was also good to see people from diverse political and socioeconomic backgrounds wanting to put their differences aside for the common good of Sullivan County.

Fredrick posed three questions to the attendees. They included: Imagine you are describing Sullivan County in 20 years from now, what do you see? What are the best opportunities for Sullivan County? What should be done immediately to achieve our goals?

There was also an extensive discussion relating to Sullivan County’s positives and negatives.

On a positive side, it was noted that Sullivan County has a great deal of resources, including fresh air and water, plenty of land for industry to develop, and a new Interstate highway coming. We can also become part of the growing farm to table branding.

On the negative side, we never should have put all of our eggs into tourism and casino gaming. Sullivan County also needs better broadband and telecommunications. Our poverty level is high, and we are one of the unhealthiest counties in New York State. The population in Sullivan County is also aging and we have little to build on.

What would those in attendance like to see in 20 years from now? Low moderate taxes, five star resorts, a four year college, revived main streets, thriving agri-tourism, a cultural arts hub, movie theatres, a skilled workforce with numerous employment opportunities, and good high speed transportation to name a few.

What are our best opportunities? We need to focus on our assets. Build a convention center, arena, civic center, shopping center, retirement community, Internet Hub, link all our natural resources together, market the Woodstock brand, and house an artist’s center.

What changes would those in attendance like to see implemented immediately? Make it easier for business people to get permits and approvals for their projects, consolidation of services, municipalities working together, and Sullivan County residents taking responsibility. There is also a need for a sense of community and support of local merchants. The increasing number of tax exempt properties was also an issue that must be dealt with.

I was very impressed with Fredrick’s grasp of our problems and our needs. He clearly gets it. It will be interesting to see Wadley-Donovan Growthtech’s final report.

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