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January 8, 2012

More than just development

Adoré Flynn Kurtz announced her retirement, effective next week, from The Development Corp., after more than 15 years as its leader. Our community is grateful for her contributions to our economic welfare and wishes her well in future pursuits.

This is a good time to reflect on the difference TDC and good economic development have made and can continue to make to our community.

Three groups are most associated with transitioning us from an Air Force-based economy to a vibrant economy able to compete globally. PARC packaged and marketed Plattsburgh Air Force Base property, while the Chamber of Commerce pursued relentlessly any new avenue for prosperity for the North Country.

Meanwhile, The Development Corp. packaged and prepared sites so new commercial prospects could move right in to facilities tailored to their needs.

The private sector doesn't fuel all North Country growth. We also celebrated in and suffered from the vagaries of state government expansion and contraction. But, it is the production of private-sector jobs and output that allows us to trade with other regions and create a sustainable and independent economy. Without the PARC land, TDC site preparation and chamber outreach, we would not be in the position we are.

Certainly, we would not have the Canadian commercial presence that has partially immunized us from the worst of the Great Recession.

However, economic development is far more than planning and site preparation. Without a vision that can be articulated and disseminated, we would end up with a hodge-podge of fit-and-start development with no synergy, cohesion or resilience.

It is understanding our past and imagining our future that provides an economic plan in which one industry feeds another. It is true economic planning that allows us to imagine what a prospect will need, beyond the obvious brick and mortar, so it can thrive here and attract the workforce it needs.

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