WATERLOO — Bob Aronson has retired as executive director of the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency.
The Seneca Falls native has headed the IDA since July 2008. His last day was Nov. 30.
During his tenure, the IDA has provided financial assistance to existing companies to help them remain in the county, and to new businesses.
“I put my house in Fayette up for sale in June and let the IDA board know this was coming at that time,” Aronson, 67, said. “My wife (Becky) and I bought a house in Florida, where my son has settled. Becky has been down there for a while and has been working on me for some time to come down, and we decided it was time.
“Women have a way of winning these discussions,” he added with a laugh. “I found great joy in helping a business expand and grow here, holding onto jobs and creating new jobs.”
He cited the IDA incentives to keep BonaDent from moving to Florida and in convincing ITT Goulds to expand in Seneca Falls as successes.
“We had a big part in the outlet mall and the casino and turned the Route 414 sewer line over to the county,” Aronson added, “but I’m most proud of what we did with the former Seneca Army Depot, which was given to the IDA to redevelop after the depot closed.
“I leave with a good sense of accomplishment for the county. It was nice to drive by a business knowing I and the IDA did something to do with their success. I can’t think of a major disappointment, and whomever comes next has a lot left to do. Hopefully, the stage has been set for that to happen.”
Aronson, who possesses master’s degrees from the London School of Economics and St. John Fisher College, said he’s also proud of his efforts at getting parties together to save the herd of white deer herd at the former depot. The IDA also was instrumental in selling roughly 7,000 acres of the former Seneca Army Depot to Earl Martin, who will build a new Seneca Dairy Services manufacturing facility at the Romulus site.
“Bob will be missed. He is a true professional that provided strong leadership throughout his tenure with the IDA and was a strong advocate for new and existing businesses throughout the county,” said Steve Brusso of Waterloo, president of the nine-member IDA Board of Directors.
Brusso said Aronson informed the board this past summer that he was going to retire in late 2019 or early 2020. He said the search has begun for a successor.
The IDA will place advertisements for applicants through the Empire State Development Office, the International Economic Development Council and in the Finger Lakes Times and newspapers in Rochester and Syracuse.
He said office manager Kelly Kline, deputy director Pat Jones, CFO Bob Kernan, legal counsel Rob Halpin and Brusso will maintain operations until then.
Kernan, of Seneca Falls, served on the IDA board since the mid-1990s. In recent years he served as the IDA’s chief financial officer.
“Bob did a good job,” Kernan stated. “Our county is stuck between two metropolitan areas of Rochester and Syracuse and is a small county. We have lost some thousands of manufacturing jobs due to industry closings, and Bob was able to keep a lid on that getting worse and met the challenge of doing the best he could do to create new jobs.
“When you add up all the pluses and minuses, a good job has been done. Hopefully, we’ll find another good person to be CEO. It’s an important position for the county.”