January 31, 2013

Editorial: Great initiative for prosperity


---- — Some communities aren’t as introspective as they ought to be — they never look with a critical eye at where they are and where they wish they were.

Others are somewhat focused on the topic, hoping something comes along — a new industry, for example — to enhance their prospects.

The North Country is far ahead of those communities. In many ways in recent years, it has taken stock and taken action.

Clinton County community leaders saw an unavailing demographic trend and decided that waiting for a more promising trend just wasn’t satisfactory. Thus was born the Partnership for Community Development and Vision2Action.

These leaders noted that the area simply wasn’t providing impetus for young people to stay and create their careers and families here. The population was aging, unable to turn back its clock by attracting or keeping its youth.

Committees were formed, and forums were held to discuss strategies and gather input on four target areas: education, recreation, transportation and the arts.

A report last week on Vision2Action’s findings and recommendations drew a packed house at the Strand Theatre — kind of a symbolic confluence of the area’s interests: Hopes are as high for the renovated theater as they are for the renovated economic future.

Education needs to be a partnership between educators and the community, so people become lifelong learners, able to thrive in the area where they were raised. Economic developers continue to seek out companies that could prosper here, and educators must make sure the workforce can deliver what is required. Educators and employers must make each other aware of their needs. Doing so means more opportunities for fulfilling careers.

The resources for residents to stay fit and healthy are an important provision. And recreation goes beyond health; it also contributes to the local economy. The growing Saranac River Trail exemplifies what the community has done and will continue to do to enhance public health and economic development.

Transportation advances have been made in several areas, as leaders aim for more pedestrian- and bike-friendly communities.

And the Strand is just one example of how the arts can polish a community’s image for residents and prospects alike. The North Country is eager to expand cultural offerings and also to open this exciting entertainment venue. The crowd on hand for last week’s progress report and musical performance signals great promise for the Strand and other arts-related endeavors.

The many volunteers who have contributed to Vision2Action have set an ambitious — and very measurable — goal for success: attracting 3,000 new families to Clinton County by 2040. If that comes to fruition, the area will be infused with new economic power, new opportunities and new vitality.

We all owe a great debt to everyone involved in Vision2Action. This is citizens seeing a problem and collaborating to find

a solution.