February 10, 2013

Local products, history enrich community


You have heard the story that IBM, GE and other companies considered Plattsburgh before locating in Burlington. We spurned these industries, but small but ambitious Burlington didn’t. The companies came because they were convinced Vermont was special — maple syrup, a great lake, beautiful mountain scenery (across the lake), and an emerging civic pride.

Companies followed the vision and pride. New employees sensed something palpable and exciting. Very soon, history was celebrated, Church Street was built, the waterfront was revitalized and everything Vermont became historic, special and even wonderful.

Old-timers remember the days when Burlington was no different from Plattsburgh. Now, everywhere you go they celebrate Vermont. On every menu you find local food, local wine and local beer. Many buildings celebrate their history with plaques and many writers celebrate local color.

Vermonters no longer must be prodded to celebrate local, buy local, grow local and drink local. Pride has become a state of mind.

Not so much here, though. It is time for us to have our own Freedom Trail that celebrates the freedom to be proud of the history all around us and what we make and grow here. They are every bit as good as that experienced elsewhere — indeed, if I can be so bold, maybe even better.

Colin Read contributes to, has published eight books with MacMillan Palgrave, and chairs the Department of Finance and Economics at SUNY Plattsburgh. Follow him on Twitter @ColinRead2040.

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