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An Economic Development Strategy for the Region

December 2, 2010 - Ernest Hohmeyer
A Marketing Opportunity for Local Businesses & An Economic Development Strategy for the Region

You may have heard either through the gracious support of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise who have publicized these events or from your fellow businesses about a local effort called “Marketing Our Community for Business” or “Adk Arts”. Don’t get lost in the jargon; we have simply recognized that many of our traditional marketing partners have vanished or have been severely hit by budget cuts such as I Love NY and Franklin County Tourism. In an effort to continue getting the word out about our region, we have discussed how we can market our individual businesses together, get to know each other better and promote the area to lure other businesses. Since we are a volunteer group, we have tried to keep our agenda simple with specific goals. Recognizing we could not create a broad marketing effort we zeroed in on what we thought was a natural, the “A”rts. Before you think this is only the photographers and painters in our community – hold the omelets.

Arts to us are the big “A” of culinary artists, literary, performing, outdoor, and functional and health industries. We have a great history here of the big “A”rts when you think of Trudeau and health, Robert Lewis Stevenson and literary, Bartok and music, the famous culinary menus of the Grand Hotels and the many notable guides and outdoor enthusiasts that graced our region. So we created, worked together with the local lodging industry to create “A”rts packages and partnered with Franklin and Essex County Tourism on a fall e-mail campaign to over 17,000 interested visitors. In conjunction with other “A”rtists we are working on 2011 calendar seeking to cross-promote, work together to broaden the impact of existing events to create new shoulder season activities. Participating members are involved in joining together a range of “A”rt activities ranging from special culinary dinners as part of the health and wellness and artist guild walks to special lodging packages as part of the 90 Miler Canoe Classic. New events planned for the spring include an “A”rts Celebration Event and later in the year a proposed Adk Heritage Week. We are also seeking to create a 2011 cooperative marketing campaign.

In the meantime, the professional and service businesses are planning a Spring Business Expo. As a volunteer group we are seeking to partner with appropriate organizations that have included the ADE and the Chambers. Anyone in business is encouraged to attend. We are an informal group with no dues or fees and we welcome other businesses who are interested in working together.

A Potential Job Creating Strategy Part of Marketing Our Community for Business has been our effort to encourage other businesses to locate here. Recently, as part of our family’s American military history tour we also looked at Art & Design Colleges for our eldest son. We were amazed by how many communities have made the arts industry a fundamental economic development driver for their future. But before you can say ho hum, this is another argument to create Woodstock, the big “A”rts world has so much more to offer than what our traditional perception of the one employee shop. My son does not want to become traditional artists in terms of painting and photography. No, he wants to design the next Star Wars or Halo animation films. When you think of today’s popular films and the use of computer images for such movies as Avatar, Star Trek and Terminator – have you seen the long list of people that work on these films? They included computer animation, graphic design, traditional artists, game art and design, 3D content design, screenwriting, sound design, it goes on and on. The “A”rts today is not what my generation thought it was with pen and paper and artists brushes and colloquial shops. Think of our own businesses: we are increasingly relying on creative thinkers, artists, and designers to help get our word out to the market place. As we reach the end of the year, I always like to read the business forecasts for 2011 and one of these is the emerging arts sector as a coming economic development strategy: • The economic impact of Art and Design exceeds that of SPORTS world-wide! • The Creative Sector will be worth over $6 trillion internationally in less than 15 years, the LARGEST ECONOMY IN THE WORLD! • 2.98 Million Americans work in the Arts • $385 Billion is spent on advertising • by 2016 jobs for multimedia artists are predicted to increase by 47%. • Yearly sales of art reached an estimated $10 Billion in the U.S. alone

(“Proof: Destroying the Myth of the Starving Artist”)

And we haven't even included other "A"rts such as culinary, outdoor and health artists!

What about working together to pursue the “A”rts as an economic development strategy? We have space available downtown, several business parks in the area that would be conducive to this effort. More importantly we have a special history of being involved in the “A”rts and a wonderful quality of life opportunity. I s there a way that our business community and grass roots organizations that support “appropriate” economic development can help us such as Adirondack Action, SAGA, the Green Circle, Adirondack Community Trust, Adirondack Sustainable Communities and a host of others? Once a local effort has been established, can other partners join us such as AEDC, ANCA, PSC, NCCC and local government? If a momentum is established can this consortium be joined by state and federal resources and even environmental advocacy groups and second home owners affiliated with foundations and other resources who call our community home? We can no longer wait for others to help us. Government will continue to feel the effects of belt tightening. We can only save so much, there must be an active business development strategy that increases the tax base and provides jobs. We have to help ourselves.

Traditional industries may no longer be viable or appropriate and there may be new opportunities that have greater potential than what we may have historically perceived. Those communities that are actively engaged in tomorrow’s economic opportunities will usually be in a strong position. Is the “A”rts one such opportunity for us?


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