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Looking back, moving forward

A Retrospective By Steve Yablonski

Thirty years ago a new publication hit the newsstands in Central New York.

In the August-September 1992 issue, with then-director of Oswego’s community development office Eugene Saloga featured on the inaugural cover, the headline proclaimed: “The Wal-Mart era begins in Oswego” — and so Oswego County Business Magazine was born.

“This is the first and only publication about business and economic development in Oswego County.” publisher Wagner Dotto publisher wrote. “Want to serve as a linkage between different businesses … to work with you and grow with you.”

The first edition—$2.95 and 26 pages.

“Is it a crazy idea to start a magazine during a recession and in a media-saturated market?” Dotto mused.

The magazine, over the decades, has featured several articles regarding the closure of major businesses (Fulton is among those hit the hardest with the loss of Miller and Nestle), the recessions and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. But look closely and you’ll see that the region is undergoing a renaissance.

This inaugural cover of Oswego County Business is dated August/September 1992. The cover features Eugene Saloga and ushers in the Walmart era to Oswego. This cover, framed, currently hangs in Oswego County Business’ production office.

Eleven years ago in Oswego, the Broadwells began an expansion project of a new restaurant, 18 additional hotel rooms and a conference center that would accommodate up to 500 people. Their belief in the area hasn’t waned — they have embarked on a new project to create a year-round waterpark in the Port City.

The magazine has not only introduced readers to the powerful women in CNY, the “Forty Under 40,” and a plethora of other movers-and-shakers — it has presented advice from top experts on how to start (and succeed) in business.

Fairs and festivals are highlighted. New and long-time businesses are spotlighted.

OCBM has featured a plethora of articles recently highlighting the works of area entrepreneurs.

Established entrepreneurs like Ed Alberts (WIRED Telcom, Rehab Resources and others) and Atom Avery (Litatro, 5 Points Wine and Liquor and others) and the next generation like Jenna Behling and Denyel Busch (6 Acres Farm Brewery) aren’t slowing down.

An excellent example: In 1992, Terry Leroy (owner of LeRoi) was a pizza delivery boy. By 1998, he was the owner of a $1.4 million company. When he was looking to expand his jewelry business, he not only did—but a few years later, he along with partner, Tammy Wilkinson, opened Aqua Spa Float Center & Wellness Boutique in Oswego.

In this 2011 edition of Oswego County Business, writer Lou Sorendo covered the Broadwell family’s $6 million conference center construction project. That same conference center, a decade later, just hosted Operation Oswego County’s 70th annual meeting in June 2022.

More success stories

• Teamwork saved Sealright. Sealright in December of 2005 announced it would remain in Fulton (instead of moving to Desoto, Kansas). It was “a Christmas present to our community,” said L. Michael Treadwell executive director of Operation Oswego County.

• In 2003, Global Buffet was opening in Oswego in a former dollar store in the former Green’s department store location. The building was razed a couple years ago to make way for the Litatro building.

• The Pinarama bowling alley was demolished to make room for a Staples. The site is now a Harbor Freight Tools. Bowlers enjoy their sport at Lighthouse Lanes, which opened in 2003 on Shampine Drive in Oswego.

• In early 2002, Pinky’s was replacing the Arby’s in Oswego. The site is now becoming a Popeye’s.

• In 2002, Gosch Supply and Lighting Centre celebrated 30 years in Fulton. “It’s a lot of work being self-employed, but it’s worth it,” owner Garry Standard said at the time. This year, Gosch Supply is celebrating 50 years in business.

• A Walmart ‘superstore’ was going to open in July 2002 in Central Square. A short while later, the Oswego store became a ‘superstore.’ It was reported that a year after Walmart opened in Oswego, more business sprouted up along the Route 104 east corridor in Oswego.

  The former Holiday Harbor Hotel in Oswego was transformed into Steamers after being purchased by the Broadwell family for $725,000.

• The Fulton and Oswego chambers merged. Officials said the chambers’ members as well as the community at large would be the big winners. The chamber is currently part of CenterState CEO.

• In 2005, it was noted that Cicero had been ‘rediscovered’ and was ‘growing fast.’

• In 2011, Buttolph Lumber planned to grow in the former Wickes site in Schroeppel. They relocated from Jamesville.

• Also, a more than $13 million project more than doubled the square footage of the Fulton Companies in Pulaski. And Healthway continued to expand in Pulaski as well.

• In 2012, the $16 million expansion of Cayuga Community College into Fulton was set to stimulate economy and create jobs. Work at former P&C site at River Glen Plaza was getting underway.

Chuck Gijanto took over as CEO of Oswego Health, replacing long-time CEO Ann Gilpin, at the end of 2015. And we covered it. Since then, Michael Harlovic has entered as CEO and Oswego Health continues to grow, having just completed a new behavioral center at the end of 2021.

One site’s story

The CNY business scene is evolving.

For example: In 2003, the former Admiral Woolsey’s restaurant in Oswego became Herring’s Landing. The new owner planned to expand the kitchen and add a second floor. However, Herring’s Landing closed, citing slow business. In May 2007, Patrick and Patricia Jones opened Patz restaurant in the site. It didn’t survive. Chef Ray Jock returned home to Oswego to open his own restaurant, La Parrilla on Oswego’s west side. It recently moved into the site and is now La Parrilla On The Water.

While some long-time companies have fallen by the wayside, others continue to thrive.

Ontario Orchards in the town of Oswego has been providing food from the farm to the consumer since 1952. They’re still going strong in 2022.

In 2004, The Oswego County Weeklies in Mexico celebrated 80 years under the Backus family. The paper exists today under the direction of the Johnson family, owners of the Watertown Daily Times.

Both the Oswego and Fulton speedways have roared back to life.

New ventures in CNY seem to be starting all the time.

The Syracuse area has seen a surge in new, renovated hotels.

The Lakeview Amphitheater in Syracuse has also been a hugely popular venue.

The Amazon fulfillment center in Clay has been a shot in the arm for the local economy.

The names may have changed for several businesses but they’re still here. For example:

Niagara Mohawk is now National Grid

BOCES is now CiTi.

Alcan is now Novelis.

Sealright is now Huhtamaki.

Oswego County Business Magazine has grown and evolved with the times. It is now 100 pages an issue and has been the recipient of numerous awards from the Syracuse and Oswego County press clubs and others. The magazine continues to provide information that isn’t found elsewhere for businesses all in one place with each new issue.

Let’s look forward to another 30 years of covering business and economic development in Central New York! ν