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Partnership looks back on past year, celebrates awardees

Story and Photos by Joseph Abraham
Posted 10/12/21

The Sullivan Partnership for Economic Development held its 27th Annual Meeting and Awards last Wednesday, reflecting on the past year’s challenges and successes. Looking out into the crowd at …

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Partnership looks back on past year, celebrates awardees

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The Sullivan Partnership for Economic Development held its 27th Annual Meeting and Awards last Wednesday, reflecting on the past year’s challenges and successes.

Looking out into the crowd at Resorts World Catskills casino, Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development President/CEO Marc Baez said that the ultimate measure of a man, woman, team, community or organization is not where it stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where it stands at times of challenge and controversy.

“As we continue to work through COVID-19 and its impact on our business community, we pause tonight, and celebrate organizations, including ours, but ultimately people who have risen to this challenge, and have helped our economy become one of the fastest to rebound from this devastating pandemic,” said Baez. “We do have a way to go, but we’re well on our way to capture and even surpass the momentum we had created prior to the pandemic.”

Baez reflected on the county leading the region in year-over-year private sector job growth, up 11.2 percent, attributing that to businesses reopening and as well as new investment.

In his speech to attendees, Chair of the Partnership Board of Directors, Randy Resnick, was critical of the County of Sullivan Industrial Development Agency’s recent decision to enact a pause on most new applications (as there are some exceptions) until March 1, 2022, while the IDA, in collaboration with the county legislature, review all 13 of their currently existing Uniform Tax Exemption Programs (UTEP).

“As businesspeople, we’ve all been in situations where we needed to redefine our directions,” said Resnick. “We needed to re-examine our procedures, our policies, maybe even reorganize our staff, fire people, move people around. But we don’t close our doors, we’re open for business, and the optics of not being open for business is not good for us.”

Resnick added that he believes the IDA does some great work, but that the pause sends the wrong message to existing businesspeople who are here and to potential businesspeople who are coming into town.
He also implored members of the Partnership to speak up, get involved, put personal interests aside, call their friends in high places and tell them how they feel.

“We need to keep pressure on the decision makers, and that includes elected officials, town boards, and anyone that stands in our way,” said Resnick. “We all need to stand up for what we believe in, or we’re going to get run over. And I stand up for you.”

Award recipients
As is tradition, the Partnership’s Annual Meeting also celebrates two awardees.

Delaware Engineering’s John Brust and the Liberty NY Rotary Club were recognized as this year’s Distinguished Service Award and Walter A. Rhulen Award recipients respectively.

Brust, who was introduced by current Partnership Board of Directors Treasurer Michael Zalkin, was unable to attend in-person but gave his address virtually.

Zalkin, in giving examples of Brust the person, told stories such as when he took a coworker to NYC for a medical procedure, and of the time he was in Washington D.C. for meetings, went into the bar, and upon learning there were several police chiefs present, got on a chair and yelled “drinks on me.”

“We’re all fortunate to know John and have his support in our community,” said Zalkin. “He is one special guy.”

Accepting the award on Brust’s behalf was Delaware Engineering business partner Mary Beth Bianconi, who noted that he is all about others (talking about everyone except himself) and humbled by the honor.

Foster Supply Hospitality co-Founder Sims Foster introduced the Liberty NY Rotary Club, calling the group the finest Sullivan County has to offer.

“They exemplify moral, ethical and spiritual commitment to honor the core principle that they say at the beginning of every single rotary club meeting … service above self ... in a world that I often think puts ‘I’ above ‘we,’ and ‘me’ above ‘my community,’” said Foster. “They really are the best of us and that’s saying a lot, because we’re all pretty damn good in this room.”

Foster then referred to the “Man in the Arena” speech by former U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt.

“It’s really about action,” said Foster, “and that having ideas and thinking good thoughts doesn’t move the needle. That spurring action, being in the arena with the sweat, tears and blood on your face … you deserve the credit. So Liberty Rotary Club, you, for the Walter Rhulen Award, have achieved 100 percent of the credit that is due to you for all that you do for us and for the world.”

Disclaimer: The author of this piece is a member of the Liberty NY Rotary Club.

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