March 11, 2012

Clear air, visibility unlimited

Pilots are a reserved bunch.

I recall a story of a British Airways pilot who flew into clouds and inadvertently through a volcanic eruption in Indonesia. The ash from the volcanic eruption caused his engines to glassify and progressively shut down.

He landed safely. However, his passengers were understandably nervous about why the jet engines no longer seemed to be running. He soothed their fears by letting them know there was a slight problem that may cause a bit of a delay in their travel plans. His steady composure in a one in a billion situation allowed confidence and control to trump pessimism.

When pilots are optimistic, they use the term CAVU, or clear air, visibility unlimited.

The Clinton County economic climate has seen its share of clouds over the 200 years since its pivotal role in the War of 1812 and since its important place in the War of Independence.

Certainly, the closing of the Plattsburgh Air Force Base was a significant cloud that hung over our community for perhaps five years. Since then, though, the economic clouds have mostly blown away, and we are left with clear skies, perhaps with the occasional summer cloud that blows our way.

Laurentian Aerospace seemed like a bright spot when it suddenly rose on our horizon just before the credit crunch five years ago. Despite every bit of support our community could muster, it apparently still lacks a white knight venture capitalist that is willing to land this project.

There is no shortage of venture capital out there right now for great business plans. However, our nation's inability to rapidly pull out of its economic spiral may have discouraged potential investors. Meanwhile, other states willing to employ more economic-development tools likely continue to woo projects like Laurentian's state-of-the-art wide-body aircraft repair facility.

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