Press-Republican

April 2, 2013

Young professionals urged to take control

DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — Take control of the region’s future.

That was one of the messages at the Adirondack Young Professionals sixth-annual Economic Forum, held recently at Olive Ridley’s.

The group strives to identify issues that discourage the younger generation from staying here to establish careers and also from coming to the North Country from outside. 

FOCUSED PLAN

Terry Meron, owner of the Comfort Inn complex in Plattsburgh, sat on a panel at the event and offered his insight.

The area, he said, has lacked a common vision and planning for too many years. That why he’s so excited to be involved with the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau’s Destination Master Plan project.

“That will guide what will be here for you in future years,” he said.

The Master Plan includes a call for a private/public partnership to develop the Plattsburgh City Beach area, which covers more than 90 acres.

“Where have you been that has a better piece of property than that?” Meron asked.

And the region needs to do more to emphasize its rich military history, including the Battle of Valcour in the American Revolution and the Battle of Plattsburgh in the War of 1812, he also said, noting both were key turning points in those conflicts.

‘MAKE NOISE’

Panel member Dr. Colin Read, chair of the SUNY Plattsburgh Department of Finance and Economics and owner of Champlain Wine Company, said initiatives such as Vision2Action — a group of Clinton County citizens who are interested in giving direction to leaders and planning for the future of the community — are intended to identify what should be done to attract and retain people. 

He said more and more young people seem to realize the importance of community involvement.

“I urge you to make more noise about what you want here,” he said.

He would also like to see the return of the Downtown Plattsburgh Association, which has not been active for several years. 

Read said visitors to his wine shop often talk about the history museums. It would be great if more local people helped spread the word about what’s here.

“We need everybody to look at this place with new, fresh eyes,” he said.

LOOKING AHEAD

Clinton Community College Director of the Center for Community and Workforce Development Paul DeDominicas said he believes young people have a lot of great ideas and creative ways to achieve them. 

They should go for it, he said.

“Just because it’s never been done before doesn’t mean you can’t,” he said. 

Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Bernie Bassett said that if people see something the community lacks, they should get involved and get it started rather than wait for government or someone else to do so.

Opportunities continue to arrive, as evidenced by the presence of global companies such as Fujitsu Frontech, APG Neuros, Nova Bus (a division of Volvo Group) and Schluter Systems, he said, and there’s more to come.

“Don’t go anywhere folks. The next few years are going to be among your most exciting,” Bassett said.

KEEP MONEY HERE

Kim Mannion, a business adviser with the North Country Small Business Development Center, said the city should reinstate its economic development office, which was closed several years ago. 

The city does have a revolving-loan fund but not enough people know about it, she said.

Internships at local companies can help college students find opportunity after graduation, Mannion said. The region would also benefit if more people supported locally owned businesses, as more of that money stays in the community.

David Coryer, director of sales and recruiting at employment service ETS, said groups such as the Adirondack Young Professionals are helping develop efforts to improve the community. The goal should be to attract more companies to locate both headquarters and operations in Plattsburgh, he said.

He called for more political leaders to get involved with initiatives such as Vision2Action.

John Boughtin, director of communications for Rep. Bill Owens, told the Press-Republican Monday that the congressman is interested in initiatives to keep people in the area and will meet with members of Adirondack Young Professionals on Wednesday.

The group’s president, Steven Geddes, expressed appreciation at the forum to those who attended.

“We control our own destinies,” he said. “If we’re not making ourselves heard, we have no right to complain.”

Email Dan Heath:dheath@pressrepublican.com