Press-Republican

Guest Column

June 23, 2013

Support needed for entrepreneurs

Last week marked the first anniversary of my tenure as president & CEO of The Development Corporation (TDC). We celebrated with a cake and florets of broccoli — it’s a long story.

It’s been an interesting and productive year, at least it has been from my perspective.

Clinton County is a dynamic and extraordinary mix of cultural, geographic and economic assets. However, it’s not without challenges, including low (and getting lower) population densities and a remoteness which brings with it diseconomies of scale and sometimes an increased cost of doing business.

A discouraging public policy context in which federal, state, county and local governments are facing severe fiscal challenges complicates the situation. It’s further complicated by an environment in Washington where there is no organized constituency for rural America (other than the members of Congress representing rural communities, and in Bill Owens, we have one of the best.)

In that context, it becomes understandable why many rural communities across the country suffered longer and to a greater degree than did urban areas during the Great Recession, but not so much in Clinton County, where we’ve fared better than most.

The unemployment rate is higher than we want it to be, but local businesses seem to be doing better as indicated by the North Country Chamber of Commerce’s business survey in which the vast majority of businesses expressed optimism about the future.

The region is doing well in attracting new businesses and retaining existing businesses, and local political and business leaders have not let the negativity of the “crisis du jour” coming out of Washington immobilize them. For the past five years, they’ve stepped up to define the future they want for the region.

And they’ve done it by creating a vision, by being innovative and by taking risks.

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Guest Column