Considering 2012 marks my third year behind the cubicle, so to speak, for The Evening Sun’s annual publication of Progress Chenango, I must admit I’m not all that surprised by the success stories contained therein. Simply put, things seem to be turning around for many of our area businesses and the stories contained within the pages (all 72 of them) of Progress are proof of that.
NBT Bank President and CEO Martin Dietrich said it best, I think, in Section 3 of Progress, which hit the newsstands yesterday.
“Locally, I think there are a lot of reasons to feel optimistic and we have some strong businesses that are helping to drive our economy forward. Not all areas of the state are so fortunate ... we have a cadre of really solid businesses here.”
And while Progress truly is a monumental undertaking for all involved, it is – in the end – always a worthy one. For one thing, it’s nice to focus on the positive once in awhile. In my humble opinion, however, it’s more than that. For me, as a reporter, it’s getting to know these local businesses a little (actually a lot) better and meeting the people behind the scenes that keep them up and running.
That, my friends, is what Progress is all about.
And in covering Progress, I’ve had an opportunity to tour the facilities, warehouses and workspace of any number of area businesses included in its pages, from Golden Artists Colors to the aforementioned NBT Bank, the Mid York Press, CWS, The Raymond Corporation, Unison, the Norwich Family YMCA (to be known from this day forth – officially – as The Y) and Norwich Pharmaceuticals, among many others (I’ve never toured Agro Farma, much to my dismay). To put it mildly, it’s absolutely amazing what these local businesses contribute to our daily lives, whether it’s their charitable contributions of time, energy and money; the dollars they pay in to our local tax base or – most importantly – the fact that they employ thousands of Chenango County residents.
Even better? They really are making progress.
This year’s Progress also includes a quartet of features on Chenango County’s downtown landscapes: Sherburne in Monday’s Section 2; New Berlin in Tuesday’s Section 4; Greene in today’s Section 6 and Oxford in Thursday’s Section 8.
Me? I was assigned Oxford. And I can’t tell you how great it was to speak with Terry Stark, the village mayor, as well as a number of downtown business owners. These are the people who make our downtowns here in Chenango County what they are: friendly, welcoming and – in many cases – historic in their preservation of architecture, not to mention that small-town Americana vibe that defines life here in the Land of the Bullthistle.
Some people (actually a lot of people at times) like to complain about our county. They say it’s too dull, there’s nothing to do and – for lack of a better term – it’s just plain boring.
I disagree. In fact, I vehemently disagree.
Sure, things move a tad slower here. And maybe we’re not as exciting as some of the larger, more wealthy municipalities surrounding our little corner of upstate New York. But we do have a number of businesses that are growing ... and adding jobs. We do have a team of law enforcement agencies and emergency personnel who – on a daily basis – put their respective communities first and their personal safety second. We have decent schools that – through no fault of their own – are struggling to keep up with much of the rest of the state financially, all the while providing the best education they possibly can for our children.
That’s Chenango County. And that’s real progress. And it’s that progress that – more than anything else – is proof that we have a good thing going here in good old Chenango County.
Trust me, it could be a lot worse. The question you have to ask yourself, however, is simply this ... does it get any better?
Me? I was born and raised here. I graduated high school – and college – right here. I performed with the marching and jazz bands, sang with the choir, learned how to play the guitar and formed my first band here. I became a writer – in the professional sense – here. And my life, in every aspect, is better for having lived here.
That’s what I call progress.
Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunbrian.