Looking Ahead to Chenango County's Economic Development

By Erika Mahoney

September 10, 2012 Updated Sep 11, 2012 at 10:36 AM EDT

Bainbridge, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Commerce Chenango officials say the county is facing both a declining and aging population.

But officials hope a five-year economic development plan can change that.

As officials draft a plan, they are touring the county to hear from the public.

John Payne, who owns four businesses in Bainbridge, said although the development of Chobani Yogurt has spurred economic growth in the area, he feels like the local, longstanding businesses are being left out.

Payne said developing those small businesses will attract a younger crowd to stay in town, something he said has been an issue for a long time.

"In the diner I own, I had a couple come in and ask... what do children do after graduation," said Payne. "And I looked at him very seriously and I said, well, we have an agreement with Greyhound. Graduation night, they get their diploma, walk across the stage, and get on the bus and never come back."

Payne said there needs to be more opportunities to keep the younger generation around, to jump start growth and create a foundation for the future of Chenango County.

The final draft of the plan is due in December to the Industrial Development Agency, which will use the information to update its strategic plan.