North Country Chamber Hosts Annual State Of County, Town and City Forum

Jan 18, 2018

The Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual State of the County, Town and City forum this morning to hear reports from municipal leaders.

An overflow crowd gathered to hear the economic highlights of the past year from Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read, Clinton County Legislature Chair Harry McManus and Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman, all Democrats.

Chamber President and CEO Garry Douglas explained the event’s purpose, now in its second year.  “The county, the town and the city all had their own traditions of doing an annual state of report or address on their jurisdictions separately. And we thought it would gain more attention to the plans, words, insights from our local leaders if we could bring them together at an event like this and then to also in so doing to give us all a chance to see and encourage the positive interplay amongst the three as well as they highlight circumstances or challenges but also even more importantly look for opportunities or identify goals for the future. We're all in this together.”

Clinton County Legislature Chair Harry McManus was the first at the podium with a PowerPoint presentation. He focused on two themes: stability and economic development.  “Clinton County has been a remarkably stable government entity for the past decade. We are actively engaged in multiple economic development efforts. Stability and certainty that it provides is absolutely necessary to attract new development and inspire confidence in the local economy. By almost any measure Clinton County is in great financial condition and is in a strong position to continue that fiscal stability. The county is also actively involved on several fronts in economic development efforts and we hope and expect to create jobs which is the ultimate payback for economic development.”

Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read noted that the city received a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award from New York state nearly two years ago yet there has been little movement to date.  He outlined a number of actions that are expected to move redevelopment efforts forward.  “In the last month or so we've finally received the contracting to go out to the next step. What we've already done is we have a grant program for  revitalization of downtown structures. Another thing we’re  doing right now is development of our riverfront, our streetscaping, our marketing and branding. About half of the grant that we received, the $10 million dollars, is to do something with the Durkee Street parking lot.”

The mayor also noted a number of challenges the city is addressing including a lack of developable land to increase the tax base and a negative fund balance.  “To me to do realistic analysis is the most optimistic thing you could possibly do. It's facing your challenges head on. It's not about money. It's about creating opportunities. It’s about leaving a better community for our children.”

Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman noted that 60 businesses invested $40 million in projects within the town in 2017. He provided an overview of infrastructure, economic development efforts and shared services that have been undertaken over the past year.  “The town of Plattsburgh has been building on regional relationships. Obviously we have a strong connection between the uptown-downtown corridor that is made up of the city and the town. But we are also blessed to have great relationships with the adjoining towns like Schuyler Falls. We've been doing a lot of great work with them. And we have a lot of unique projects on the horizon and we're also seeing a great expansion of development in our aerospace and manufacturing clusters. So the town is in a strong position right now.”

The Chamber will host the region’s state representatives in two weeks for reports from Albany.