A retrospective by Steve Yablonski

Thirty years ago, a new publication appeared on newsstands in midtown New York.

In the August-September 1992 issue, with Eugene Saloga, then Director of the Oswego Community Development Office, 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 Oswego County’s first and only business and economic development publication.” editor Wagner Dotto editor wrote. “You want to act as a link between different companies…to work with you and grow with you.”

The first edition—$2.95 and 26 pages.

“Is it a crazy idea to launch a magazine in a time of recession and in a media saturated market?” Dotto thinks.

The magazine, over the decades, has featured several stories relating to major business closures (Fulton is among those hardest hit by the loss of Miller and Nestlé), recessions and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. 19. But take a good look and you will 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 in Oswego. This cover, framed, currently hangs in the production office of Oswego County Business.

Eleven years ago in Oswego, the Broadwells began a project to expand a new restaurant, 18 additional hotel rooms and a conference center that could accommodate up to 500 people. Their confidence in the area has not wavered – they have embarked on a new project to create a year-round water park in the port city.

The magazine not only introduced readers to CNY Power Women, the “Forty Under 40” and a plethora of other influencers, it featured top-level expert advice on how to get started (and succeed) in business.

Fairs and festivals are highlighted. New and long-standing businesses are highlighted.

The OCBM has recently published a plethora of articles highlighting the work of entrepreneurs in the region.

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.

A great example: In 1992, Terry Leroy (owner of LeRoi) was a pizza delivery boy. In 1998, he owned a $1.4 million business. When he was looking to expand his jewelry business, he not only did, but a few years later, with his partner, Tammy Wilkinson, he 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. This same conference center, a decade later, just hosted the 70th annual meeting of Operation Oswego County in June 2022.

More success stories

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

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

• The Pinarama bowling alley was demolished to make way 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 replaced Arby’s in Oswego. The site now becomes a Popeye’s.

• In 2002, the Gosch Lighting and Supply Center celebrated its 30th anniversary 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 celebrates 50 years of activity.

• A Walmart ‘superstore’ was to open in July 2002 in Central Square. Soon after, the Oswego store became a “supermarket”. It has been reported that a year after Walmart opened in Oswego, more businesses have sprung up along the eastern corridor of Route 104 in Oswego.

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

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

• In 2005, it was noted that Cicero had been “rediscovered” and was “developing rapidly”.

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

• In addition, a more than $13 million project more than doubled the square footage of the Fulton Companies in Pulaski. And Healthway also continued to grow in Pulaski.

• In 2012, Cayuga Community College’s $16 million expansion in Fulton was intended to stimulate the economy and create jobs. Work on the former P&C site at River Glen Plaza was beginning.

Chuck Gijanto took over as CEO of Oswego Health, replacing longtime CEO Ann Gilpin, at the end of 2015. And we’ve got it covered. Since then, Michael Harlovic has stepped in as CEO and Oswego Health continues to grow, having just completed a new behavioral center in late 2021.

The story of a site

The CNY trading scene is changing.

For example: In 2003, Admiral Woolsey’s former 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 the Patz restaurant on the site. He did not survive. Chef Ray Jock has returned home to Oswego to open his own restaurant, La Parrilla, on the west side of Oswego. It recently moved into the site and is now called La Parrilla On The Water.

While some long-standing businesses have been abandoned, others continue to thrive.

Ontario Orchards in the city of Oswego has been delivering farm-to-consumer food since 1952. They’re still going strong in 2022.

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

The Oswego and Fulton expressways have come alive.

New CNY businesses seem to be starting up all the time.

The Syracuse area has seen an increase in the number of new and remodeled hotels.

The Lakeview Amphitheater in Syracuse has also been an extremely popular venue.

Amazon’s fulfillment center in Clay has been a boost to the local economy.

The names may have changed for several companies, but they are still there. For instance:

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 over time. It is now 100 pages and has received numerous awards from Syracuse and Oswego County press clubs and others. The magazine continues to provide information not found elsewhere for businesses in one place with each new issue.

Looking forward to another 30 years of covering business and economic development in central New York! v