October 7, 2012

An exciting downtown

I must admit. I take great pride in downtown Plattsburgh. I’m sure I am one of a great many who do.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a vested interest in seeing downtown succeed. As the owner, with my wife, of a wine-tasting room on City Hall Place, I love to see pedestrians enjoying our historic city core. In fact, it was my interest in the downtown and my desire to see if we can help create a viable grape-growing and wine-making region that induced me to want to start a vineyard, winery and tasting room.

If a small-business person wants to create a sustainable business, there are probably better towns to open up shop. Vermont is a marketing powerhouse, and people in Vermont love all things Vermont. They have invested in their Church Street pedestrian mall, which now generates about $150 million in commerce each year.

What we can grow here, they can grow there. And, Vermont has a very appreciative and larger population base to support new industry. In fact, a vineyard just across the lake just opened a wine-tasting room on Church Street. I expect it will do very well in a state that is far more business-friendly than ours and without the same restrictions imposed on our wine industry here.

But, starting a business over there, while not as challenging, may not be as satisfying, either. Here, we have a chance to create something new. 

Plattsburgh’s synergies are hard-earned. I give Carol McLean much of the credit for having a vision 15 years ago to make City Hall Place an area where pedestrians can come stroll, sit by the street on a nice summer day, have a nice meal and sip some wine. Today, she is hosting a block party on City Hall Place as one more chance before the snow flies to enjoy some music, food, wine and good company. I view the block party as an opportunity to celebrate her vision and our fair city, with the fall foliage colors at their peak.

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