New Village President Johnson: 'Oswego is Open for Business'
May 06, 2015 09:08AM
● By Steven Jack
Gail Johnson is sworn in just minutes before her first Board meeting as Village President.
Newly sworn-in Village President Gail Johnson struck a decidedly pro-business tone in her first meeting of the new Village Board Tuesday night.
Johnson and her slate of new trustees, including Ryan Kauffman, Joe West and Karin McCarthy- Lange, campaigned on supporting Oswego’s existing business community and opening up the village to new developments with the possible use of economic incentives.
“Oswego is now open for business,” Johnson said in her first statement as Village President. “We have been talking the talk of a business-friendly community for a long time. Tonight we will start walking the talk—we will put resources, energy, and intention behind our words and openly support the businesses who already call Oswego home and those who would like to make Oswego their home.”
Johnson said the first evidence of village support of the local business community will be the attendance of 12 top village officials at Thursday night’s Oswego Chamber of Commerce annual dinner meeting. Recent chamber dinners have been attended by only a handful of village officials.
Chamber President and CEO Angie Hibben said she fully expects the relationship between the village and the business community to continue to strengthen under Johnson’s leadership.
“The village and the chamber already work closely on a lot of different projects, and I think Gail as village president will only make our relationship even stronger,” Hibben said.
The use of economic incentives to attract new business to town has been a matter of debate among elected village officials for many years. Johnson has said she supports their use in a manner that not only benefits business development, but also the village.
“Our neighboring communities have used incentives to attract new business,” Hibben said. “I think the new board will be more willing to use incentives to get new business to locate here, and we need that to be able to compete. I definitely think there will be a change in atmosphere as far as that’s concerned.”
Oswego’s key economic corridors has seen growth in the past year from the opening to Hobby Lobby and construction of a new DSW Shoe Warehouse along Route 34 to the opening of several new eating establishments on Orchard Road to the redevelopment of the long-vacant Old Fire Barn downtown by Oswego Cyclery owner Art Black.
“There’s just so much potential here, and I’m hopeful that we will continue to grow at an even faster rate,” Hibben said.