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Economic Development Strategic Plan unveiled

By: DAN HEATH

PLATTSBURGH — The Town of Plattsburgh has a new Economic Development Strategic Plan.

“This began a couple years ago with my concern that I didn’t want us to be waiting passively for businesses to find us,” Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Bernie Bassett said.

The plan, 75 pages in length, concludes with a number of economic development goals and action priorities.

EXPAND TAX BASE

One is to develop a business-friendly environment to expand the town’s tax base and provide residents with a wide range of business, employment and career opportunities.

Priorities include” improvement of the town’s present and future commercial corridors, with emphasis on Route 3, Tom Miller Road and Rugar Street; development of the former Clinton County Airport; expansion of available quality housing; and provision of assistance to existing and new businesses.

INFRASTRUCTURE

A second is to continue to upgrade and update the town’s infrastructure. Priorities in that regard include: creation of a five-year capital-improvement plan to identify required improvements and development of a funding strategy; support broadband and cellphone-service improvements; expansion of natural gas service; and continued focus on complete streets and healthy-living initiatives.

Bassett said the town has long realized the importance of infrastructure improvements in attracting businesses.

“It (infrastructure) doesn’t fix itself,” he said.

TOURISM

Another goal is to promote tourism as an economic engine. Priorities for that include: continued improvements to the town’s recreation program; support of regional branding initiatives such as the Adirondack Coast; marketing Plattsburgh as a tourist destination; and continued support of the economic impact of Canadian visitors.

WORKFORCE

Workforce development was identified as another goal.

That could be achieved through increased cooperative efforts among schools, industries, businesses and community organizations to create a more modern workforce and provide workers and students with the skills to attain local employment.

RESOURCES

Additional goals include identification and utilization of existing public and private resources. Among them are: designation of a economic development coordinator; gaining access to funding opportunities; and use of a single website as a portal to link all local and regional economic development resources.

ROUND-TABLE SESSION

A Planning Advisory Committee guided the development of the plan.

Serving on it are: local business owner Diane Akey, The Development Corp. President Paul Grasso; Clinton Community College President John Jablonski; Deputy Town Supervisor Martin Mannix; North Country Chamber of Commerce Vice President for Marketing Michele Powers; Town Planning Department Head Philip Von Bargen; TwinState President and CEO Devi Momot; and Saranac Power Partners General Manager Steve Wible.

In addition, about 35 people from the region took part in a daylong round-table session in October 2012 to help identify ways the town could work to attract new businesses.

DEMOGRAPHICS

Bassett said the idea was to look at the town’s impact on the region and vice-versa, as well as to identify both town and regional resources that could be used to foster economic development.

He said the plan contains a wealth of demographic information.

“We’ll use this as a reference for years,” he said.

The plan is expected to be posted on the town website in the future. Copies will also be available in the Town Clerk’s Office once they are printed.

Email Dan Heath:dheath@pressrepublican.com

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