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“I’m very excited about taking the reins as chairman,” Monticello attorney Jacob Billig said about his recent election as Chairman of the Board of the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development.
A Sullivan County native with deep roots in the county, Billig certainly remembers the area during its heyday, when Broadway, Monticello was a hubbub of activity and the resorts attracted hundreds of thousands of people to the Catskills every year.
“Our county is poised for some real big positive economic growth,” Billig said, just days before the New York Gaming Facility Location Board was to announce the locations for the four casino gaming licenses in New York.
“In addition to the casinos we have many businesses making a significant investment in our area, including Monticello Motor Club, Veria at Kutsher’s, Lost Lake in Forestburgh, Apollo Mall rejuvenation in Monticello and Bethel Woods’ continuing expansion plans.”
Billig said he was very encouraged by the recent efforts to bring casinos to Sullivan County.
“It was not only a conscientious effort but a very organized one to bring business to the county,” he said. “Along with the Town of Thompson, our County Legislature played a big role, realizing the opportunities casinos provides to small business. This is also true of the Partnership, Visitors Association and Chamber who all worked seamlessly together toward one goal. We need the private and public sector to continue these kind of focused joint efforts.”
And while Billig is able to cite many of the large projects moving forward in Sullivan County, he believes large capital investments are what keeps small business vibrant.
“Bringing development dollars into the community gives incentive for small business people to invest,” he said. “The best way to help small business is to support large capital investment.”
And with the help of the Sullivan County Partnership, several small businesses are appearing on Sullivan County’s main streets.
Billig and his partners recently purchased the former NYSEG building on Broadway, Monticello and invested several hundred thousand dollars to renovate it for their two law offices.
“We did that because we are Sullivan County people and wanted to grow our business here,” he said.
Today Billig, Loughlin & Bear LLP and the Law Office of M L Zager occupy the renovated building.
Billig, Loughlin & Bear is a multi-practice law firm working in the Catskills and Hudson Valley. The Law Office of M L Zager is the Hudson Valley’s leading firm specializing solely in collections and accounts receivable management.
“My partner, Joe Loughlin, runs that office. Many firms can obtain judgments for their clients; Zager specializes in asset location to execute on judgments obtained.” Billig said. “The best thing for small business is big business,” he said. “Big businesses create opportunities and customers for small businesses.
“When we [Sullivan County] were thriving economically, we had many large businesses which supported many small family businesses,” he said. “The Partnership’s efforts are focused on small, medium and large.”
Sectors doing well
Billig sees several leaders in Sullivan County’s economic revival, including healthcare, tourism and the brewing/distilling sector.
“The Center for Discovery is Sullivan County’s largest employer and on the cutting edge of the areas they serve.
“They are a world-class organization which is providing opportunities for the Town of Fallsburg and will drive the economy of Hurleyville in a very positive way,” he said. “They are cutting edge in science and technology and have a tremendous reputation worldwide.”
The Monticello Motor Club continues to serve as a real economic growth engine, Billig said, as it brings its members into the county, driving a lot of business to local establishments.
“Another industry adding to our historic agriculture base is distilling and brewing,” he said. “The award-winning entities have made a tremendous impact in a short period of time and added another stop for tourists.”
“In the first meeting when I took over as chair I recognized the importance of our board,” Billig said. “I’m proud of the intellectual and business capital which comprises the Partnership board and their work is the most important resource we have.
“And, like all past chairmen, I will be relying on them.”
Billig added that President/CEO Marc Baez, along with VP Michele Klugman Resnick and Administrative Assistant Jennifer Clayton are doing remarkable work, including building membership and attracting new business.
Originally published in Sullivan County Business Edge: Winter 2014.