Cortland County BDC/IDA Director to Step Down (Press Release)

Cortland County Business Development Corporation and Industrial Development Agency Executive Director and CEO Garry VanGorder to retire. (Photo via the Cortland County Business Development Corporation).

Press release from the Cortland County Business Development Corporation.

Cortland County Business Development Corporation and Industrial Development Agency Executive Director and CEO Garry VanGorder will retire from the county’s top economic development post later this year.

A national search for his replacement is already underway, said Michael McMahon, chair of the BDC and IDA boards.

“There is never a good time to step away from a job like this because there is always the next project, always something important to bring to conclusion for the benefit of a community that I love,” VanGorder said. “But there are some realities you just can’t duck. Life is short and I hope to begin enjoying it a bit more.”

VanGorder, 67, came to the BDC in 2009 after serving eight years as executive director of the Cortland County Chamber of Commerce. Including a previous three-year stint at the Metropolitan Development Association, the predecessor to the regional economic development agency Centerstate CEO, he has spent nearly 25 years in local and regional economic development.

Cortland County BDC/IDA Chairman Michael McMahon recognized VanGorder for his commitment to growing Cortland County; “Garry has been a tremendous force for change in our community, he has brought hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars’ worth of capital investment to Cortland County during his tenure.” McMahon said, “Garry’s years of experience and close relationships in our business community will be difficult to replace. I want to thank him for his service to Cortland County and wish him a long and healthy retirement.”

The list of BDC and IDA accomplishments under VanGorder’s direction include:

  • Serving as the county’s top advocate for nearly $50 million in grant dollars awarded for Cortland County programs and projects through the state’s Regional Economic Development Council program. VanGorder was appointed to the CNYREDC board by Governor Cuomo in 2012;
  • Helping secure the city of Cortland’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization award in 2017. VanGorder participated in strategy development for the award and continues to serve as the DRI co-chair along with Mayor Scott Steve;
  • Helping secure the Village of Homer’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization award this year. The BDC participated in strategy development and underwrote the village’s application video. VanGorder serves as the DRI co-chair along with Mayor Hal McCabe;
  • Building the $4.5 million Fingerlakes East Business Park in south Cortland and coordinating its ultimate sale to Byrne Dairy for the development of its $30 million Yogurt manufacturing facility, Byrne Dairy has since retooled its operations there, investing millions more to support its aseptic products line;
  • Bringing Pyrotek from Chittenango to the nearly empty former Monarch Machine Tool plant in south Cortland. The facility was completely refurbished and remains a top county employer;
  • Strategy development and grant solicitor for the construction of Gutchess Lumber Sports Park in the town of Cortlandville, a growing sports tourism destination that is now bringing thousands of people to enjoy the facility and Cortland County each year;
  • Playing a key role in the multimillion-dollar redevelopment of the dilapidated former Crescent Corset manufacturing facility in the city of Cortland into upscale apartments and top commercial space supporting local businesses;
  • Strategy development and underwriting for the IDA’s acquisition, cleanup, and impending redevelopment of the former Apex manufacturing facility on the city’s east side;
  • Facilitating the local acquisition of the former Buckbee Mears manufacturing site in the city of Cortland, leading to its cleanup and ultimate sale to a new business owner. Two businesses now operate at a site that fell into significant disrepair and was subject to a federal Superfund cleanup after its former occupant pulled out workers and left the country;
  • Spearheading strategy and providing funding for critical city projects focusing on new parking regulations and a public information campaign (crowncityrising) for the Main Street DRI reconstruction;
  • Filling two empty buildings in the town of Preble with vibrant businesses (Northeast Transformer and Suit-Kote Corp):
  • Providing key leadership, advice, programming, and funding to benefit local businesses at the outbreak of and during the Covid pandemic;
  • Providing critical funding for an anticipated senior housing project on the city’s east side;
  • Reworking a Payment in Lieu of Tax (PILOT) agreement with the New York Susquehanna & Western Railroad that now provides thousands of dollars annually to local communities hosting rail traffic in their communities;
  • Taking the lead on negotiating PILOT agreements with emerging renewable energy project in across Cortland County;
  • Developing and administering a $600,000 ARPA grant program for local small businesses impacted by the pandemic;
  • Taking the lead on the redevelopment of 55 Main Street, Cortland, a building badly damaged by fire in 2005 and one that remained vacant and boarded up at a critical city intersection for more than 13 years before grant dollars were secured to begin the improvements;
  • Leading staff efforts that have benefitted hundreds of small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs; and
  • Worked with staff to provide financial incentives to major development projects in the county that have brought jobs here, kept jobs here, and facilitated more than $100 million in capital investment and infrastructure development.

In addition, VanGorder has served the community on many boards and committees during his time at the Chamber and the BDC/IDA including:

  • Cortland Regional Medical Center/Guthrie Cortland (past president):
  • JM Murray
  • CNY Regional Planning and Development Board (board vice president)
  • Cortland Regional Sports Council (past president, founding member)
  • Cortland Crush (past president);
  • Main Street Music Series (co-founder)
  • Cortland Downtown Partnership (co-founder)
  • Cortland Housing Assistance Council
  • United Way for Cortland County;
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • Community Cleanup Day (co-founder)
  • Annual GolfBake (founder)