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12 Proclamations for Change in 2012

December 29, 2011 - Ernest Hohmeyer
We have a love and hate relationship with information.

At no point in human history have we been able to access so much information.

We are receiving so much of it sometimes it makes our head hurt.

So much that the more simple and clear the information, the more we react to it.

Simple and clear.

Not only do you hear this with the emphasis of slogans in our ads but even politicians, communities and businesses alike have come to recognize the importance of “branding.” The risk of course is being stereotyped for the wrong cause. But, as we become inundated with information we are looking for those clear statements about what they are “selling”. Once we buy into the slogan we then expect them to follow up with an organized and very efficient process on delivery.

In this spirit, I always thought it would be neat if at the beginning of each business day or at the start of a community meeting we reminded folks about why we were doing what we were doing. Sort of a “proclamation” or a branding title of what our purpose is. Just like an ad where you have less than 10 seconds and 10 words, it would capitalize in a direct, simple way what we’re trying to accomplish. It would serve as a reminder as we move forward about what we said last week in our business or community meeting - or in our election campaign - of what we were going to focus on.

With that in mind, here are “Top 12 Slogans or Proclamations for Change in 2012.”

12. “No New Taxes.” This should probably be number one. I fully appreciate the issues with mandates, increasing costs and in some cases declining tax base. But as businesses we are faced with mandates too and in a recession we simply cannot always raise prices to offset the continual rise in taxes. We have no choice and neither should our local, state or federal government. Perhaps, as what I have seen being circulated around lately, any elected official that votes yes to increasing taxes should automatically have their seat up for re-election. That way if we vote them back in, they have our mandate.

11. “Our Community is called Collaboration.” Since it is the New Year and many of us are thinking of resolutions like losing weight, stop smoking and trying to break even in our business, it’s a good time to dream for a moment. Can all of our local governments agree to drop the words of their incorporated political boundary when they meet? Is it possible to create a dialogue about creating a long and short-term strategy of collaboration among our political subdivisions? Can a group of private and public citizens strategize on the budget in January and not in a courtroom “public hearing” in November?

10. “I am no Longer your Leader but a Public-sector Innovator.” While the focus has been on collaboration between the Village of Saranac Lake and the Town of Harrietstown, are there in fact greater opportunities between the towns themselves? Do the towns of Santa Clara, Brighton, Harrietstown, Franklin and St.Armand share more in common?

Further, is it possible to get our citizens involved not by another meeting but through “virtual town halls?” Activism is at an all-time high spread through the world of social media. Just about everyone is getting involved with sharing information or giving their opinion. When it comes to buying products, no one seems to be making a decision anymore without going to some review site. Can’t we take that interest on a local level and make it work for better informed decisions?

9. “There is no Park in the word Adirondack.” Excellent strides have been made in the regional economic cabinets. But the only true Adirondack Park organization is the APA. Will there ever be a truly successful “Park” unless we recognize it as a homogeneous environmental, economic, cultural and historic “habitat”? Can all sides of the debate agree to this reality and begin to work on it to create a true organizational framework for our environment and communities within it?

8. “We Need a Unified Plan” Can all sides of the debate between rails and trails agree that there is no real plan for the future of the corridor? There are excellent bits and pieces of information from both sides but there is not a true comprehensive plan. Instead of each side fighting each other and using up scarce resources, could we not join together and create a powerful strategy? Will another study by only one side be attacked by the other?

7. “The Tri-lakes is the Center of the Adirondacks” Let’s start to use the reality of our economic powerhouse to not be the ugly step-child but the leader of our region. We generate most of the occupancy tax and sales tax for our respective counties. Perhaps it just takes organizing ourselves and to consolidate our efforts such as a regional Chamber of Commerce.

6. “We Wish to Become a Regional Chamber” Can the chambers or visitors bureaus in the Tri-lakes area unite to more fully realize our potential as an economic center? One business development program fully resourced?

5. “Create the Center of the Adirondacks marketing Brand” Can we unite and create a Tri-lakes marketing brand? By itself the term “Tri-lakes” means nothing. However, when you take a look at our business, tourism and natural assets – together we are unparalleled in the Adirondacks. Can we create a dedicated marketing effort – that has no other mission except marketing - to take advantage of this?

4. “We Can No Longer Operate the Airport” Is it time for the Town of Harrietstown to put the word “regional” back into the Adirondack Airport? Can the Town of Harrietstown taxpayers continue to foot the bill for a regional asset? Is there a way to bring the surrounding towns, counties and airport users together to look at alternatives? In order to be effective, does the Town need to draw a line in the sand?

3. “It Will Require a Region to Create a Biotech Center” There has been exciting news with Trudeau Institute’s new funding and the new nascent biotech companies in the Village. In order to capitalize on this momentum and market the area as a “biotech cluster” do we need to do so as a region? We have a biotech company and 290 acres of industrial land at the Adirondack Business Park as well as other companies both inside and outside of our area that may be helpful in developing a marketing strategy. We have the potential to create a regional strategy that incorporates a wide range of partners, alternatives and incentives.

2.“Let’s Think Big” We are the stallion and not the tail of our region. Can you imagine what we could do if we truly united all of our assets, towns and human resources? A regional town hall? A regional highway department? A destination marketing effort? A unified economic development strategy? Perhaps we need another project like the Olympic bid. What could that be?

1.“I May also Need to Change” It’s great to suggest change to others. It means nothing if we don’t change ourselves. Change is inevitable. Human beings have one of the greatest natural abilities to adapt. We too need to think in terms of collaboration, consolidation and focus. With today’s technology there is a new opportunity to think out-of-the-box and to go beyond the barriers of our own business boundaries to work together. We are asking our municipal leaders to do this and we may need to do the same. Real growth for our own small businesses may be in networking with our competitors just like historically our communities have competed with each other. Despite the doldrums these are exciting new times as never before in our history have we had the opportunity to harness our energies together to make substantive changes.

For many of us it’s not about us anymore - it’s about providing a better opportunity in a more sustainable world for our children.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2012!


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