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Kent Plans Business Investment Exemption To Enhance Commercial Opportunities

Economic challenges in the past decade have forced communities to adopt innovative measures to help businesses remain competitive or even survive. As we slowly recover from the fiscal doldrums, municipalities may wish to revisit these programs to ensure maximum cost-effectiveness, ample job creation in our commercial districts, and strengthening of the overall tax base.

One such community, the Town of Kent, has amended its “Business Investment Exemption” in a significant move to entice new business construction and existing business alterations and improvements. Real property “for the purpose of commercial, business or industrial activity” will now be exempt “of 50% of the increase in assessed value thereof attributable to such construction, alteration, installation or improvement” in the first year and then extending for 9 (increased from 4) additional years on a declining scale of 5 % each year. This extends a meaningful welcome to new and existing businesses while adding to the town’s economic vitality with approved growth and local employment opportunities. Henry Boyd, President of the Carmel-Kent Chamber of Commerce, stated in a letter of support that “this kind of forward-thinking approach to motivate businesses and attract investors is truly welcome”.

The Putnam EDC and IDA are working to attract new businesses into our County and the IDA can also offer state authorized incentives to new and expanding businesses. Additionally, Putnam County with its towns and villages is organizing an over-all feasibility study that will guide effective planning for the projects necessary to develop and enhance tourism, arts and recreation efforts that have been recognized as our County’s great assets. If done in a coordinated manner, these measures should provide the resources necessary to drive business forward and build a stronger economy for all. The Putnam County Chambers of Commerce is working with its local participating organizations to evaluate these ideas and formulate plans with elected officials.

– Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce

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Putnam’s Businesses, Nonprofits and Tourism Interests Rely On Each Other

Our County’s economy is essentially a symbiotic relationship between area businesses, nonprofits and the tourism industry, and business development strategies would do well to understand this interaction.

Perhaps more than any other nearby county, Putnam relies on large nonprofit employers to provide jobs and fuel our economy. A review of the Putnam County Economic Development Corporation website (www.putnamedc.org) shows that the top 4 employers in the county are nonprofits totaling 2182 employees (by contrast the top 4 for-profit employers total 882). Putnam Hospital Center, our largest private employer, accounts for 1041 on its own. This is an important consideration, because nonprofits rely on the contributions of donors to meet their budgets and fund operations, and pay their employees.   The sheer size of Putnam’s nonprofit community seems to indicate a considerable amount of pressure on the rest of our businesses to support them. Where does the money come from? Studies have indicated in the past that “Shop Putnam” works pretty well, so people tend to keep their money local where possible. For our economy to grow, an influx of dollars from outside sources is vital.   The good news is, we are within an hour of one of the largest population sources on the planet. This presents opportunity, and also helps us understand how attracting tourists to Putnam will support not only our nonprofit organizations, but our for-profit ones too.

Every time a customer makes a purchase at Niese’s Maple Farm in Putnam Valley or attends a concert at Boscobel in Cold Spring, for example, those dollars enter our County’s economy, supporting these tourism businesses and those they interact with, and eventually the area nonprofits which receive donations and/or perform services for employees of these firms. It’s a special, mutually supportive relationship, emphasizing the need to support all facets of our economy – businesses (including tourist businesses) and nonprofits.

 – Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce

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Explore “Your” Putnam County This Summer

As Putnam residents and business owners, we love our county, and so it’s natural we want to share its considerable virtues with anyone who will listen. And at the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce, we strive to get the word out about all the opportunities to visit interesting sites and patronize local, family owned businesses throughout our county.

This is “your” Putnam County. So many of us drive directly from one activity to another and don’t take time to see the beauty and history that is all around us.  Perhaps it’s time to slow down and enjoy the neighborhood a bit more. Park and walk through the hamlets and villages and see the variety of shops and businesses – some have been here for generations.  Take a look at all the historical markers that we drive by every day – ever wonder what they say? Perhaps now’s the time to stop (safely) somewhere and go take a look.   Perhaps take a ride on one of our new-look buses (it’s only a couple of bucks) and look out the windows as you cruise along.

Have you ever thought of yourself as a “tour guide” for Putnam?   You can be. Visit the places you would take your out-of-town friends to see so that you’ll know how to describe the interesting things about them.  Stop at a local café or restaurant for lunch or dinner or just a snack, because there is some mighty fine dining in Putnam at every hour of the day, and in every community.

Putnam County is in many ways the best kept secret in the Lower Hudson Valley. With tourism being one of our best potential economic stimuli, what better way to make it work than to have all of our residents become knowledgeable about the area while enjoying a summer of exploration? Then, please share that knowledge with friends!

 – Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce

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Putnam CFA Meeting Begins 2015 Funding Process

On Monday, June 8, over 30 people representing Putnam’s towns and villages along with county legislators and planners attended a discussion led by Professor John Nolon of Pace University’s Land Use Law Center to prepare Putnam for the next round of Consolidated Funding Applications (CFA). The introduction by Deputy County Executive Bruce Walker, the County’s representative on the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council, laid out a two phase program for using this year’s CFA process for our best advantage.

Firstly, each of the municipalities would name and prioritize projects that are important for them – for example a multi-use community center, parking and/or streetscape enhancements.  They could also include private projects that would combine well with municipal infrastructure improvements, the usual basis for CFA proposals. For this round, the County would combine the proposals from the towns and villages into an application for funding a comprehensive study that would emphasize tourism and improving the hamlets and commercial districts (a look into urbanization) which are specifically targeted aspects in this year’s competition. A joint application by the several municipalities would garner extra consideration in the selection process.

The second phase would be an application for the Upstate Revitalization Initiative which will provide significant funding over a five year period to facilitate implementation of the proposed projects. The reception of this two pronged “plan of attack” was well received by the group in attendance on Monday night.  Quick follow-up by each of the municipalities to submit their “wish lists”, along with their show of support, is needed to pull the planned applications together in the short timespan allotted.

If assurances can be made that the entire county will be planning together for a better base from which to grow our economy, then the business community should be supportive of this initiative. This is a strategic approach to make the best use of the available funding processes. And the collaborative effort is a great demonstration for Putnam’s future.

– Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce

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Businesses Help Fund Higher Education Through Voluntary Scholarships

High School graduation is upon us, and area chambers of commerce are presenting some valuable scholarships to distinguished local students. For example, the Brewster, Cold Spring and Patterson chambers have various scholarships, the Carmel-Kent Chamber is giving three $1000 awards, and the Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber has awarded a total of $16,000 funded by the direct contributions of member businesses. The selection criteria for such scholarships varies, and is determined by committees who review the various candidates.

Some consideration these days is being given to young adults who have chosen community college or a trade as opposed to a four-year school. Not everyone is destined to get an MBA and become a major corporation executive.  Someone needs to learn the hands-on, practical skills to build homes, cars, devices, and work in the trades or in a factory.   Also, entrepreneurs and small businesses are the backbone of our economy; and those folks come from an eclectic background of early experiences.

It makes sense that we as business people should encourage interest in the trades, for small business and industry.   Trades are looking for motivated employees who are not “institutional education” inclined, but in today’s real world additional technical training and basic business practices are necessary for success. Chambers of commerce everywhere are searching for appropriate apprenticeship programs in cooperation with unions and trades groups.

A thought about the Minimum Wage: while it may be advisable to consider a higher standard for entry level employees, we must consider the impact of a minimum wage increase on small businesses, especially smaller manufacturing companies which struggle to compete globally, and seasonal businesses. Incorrect application of the minimum wage standard may make it impossible for some businesses to compete with entry level jobs which require less rigorous training and commitment on the part of workers, leading to less available jobs in the long run.

– Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce

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The Business Community’s Unsung Heroes – Making A Difference Every Day

The role of the local small business community in building our economy is well documented, but its only one part of the story.   Oftentimes, the generosity, volunteerism and community involvement of our business owners and their employees goes completely unnoticed, and the reward is simply the knowledge that someone was helped or our hometowns were made just a little bit better for all.

As an example of the quiet, unsung good works of our business community members, consider Kenny Hogan of Kenny’s Carpet One in Carmel.   Kenny donates flooring for houses for seriously wounded veterans and was just awarded a plaque with a piece of the Twin Towers as a token of thanks from the organization that builds the houses. This is especially poignant given the recent Memorial Day holiday. Other Carmel business owners such as Henry Boyd of Boyd Artesian Well Co. and George Hartshorn, Jr. of Hartshorn Paving gave their time and equipment, in addition to monetary donations, to help build the Imagination Station for area youth.   Nearby in Mahopac, The DeCola family of Xpress Printing on Route 6 is well known for its generosity in supporting school teams and clubs, area nonprofits, and the local chamber of commerce.

Not inclined to “toot their own horn”, these businesspeople do it for the sake of the community. They realize that every one of us is an integral part of not only our local economy but the very fabric of our society.   Businesses generate the revenue necessary to support not only the owners and their employees but the many charitable causes they hold dear. Americans have a unique propensity for the principle of “voluntary association”, which brings people together for a common cause and purpose.   We are blessed to have businesspeople who assemble not just for selfish reasons, but to make our world a better place.

– Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce

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Consolidated Funding Workshop Returns to Putnam County on May 27

The 2015 CFA program will be announced at the Putnam County Training Operations Building at the Donald B. Smith Campus, 112 Old Route 6, Carmel, on May 27 from 3-6PM, in a collaborative session hosted by the Putnam County Economic Development Corporation, the Putnam County Planning, Development and Public Transportation Department in conjunction with Pace University Land Use Law Center and supported by the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce. Former Putnam EDC President Meghan Taylor will present the information about the current CFA, followed by a question and answer session. Immediately following, the Land Use Law Center will facilitate a dialogue over funding priorities and grant opportunity collaborations for 2015 Consolidated Funding., based on ideas discussed in workshops held during March.

According to a letter signed jointly by Deputy County Executive Bruce Walker, Putnam Chambers President Bill Nulk, and Putnam EDC Chair Jeff Kellogg, it is also hoped that the event “will open a dialog amongst local communities to discuss ways to develop joint applications in support of some of the priority projects that span more than one municipality and include opportunities for public-private partnerships.” This is a great idea because in order to be successful we need our community leaders and elected officials to not only come to the meeting but formulate plans and ask for the money needed to facilitate Putnam County’s economic growth agenda in the years ahead.

As County Executive Maryellen Odell says, “You have to be in it to win it, but even more so, you have to be in it smart.” By working together and coupling businesses and municipalities, we likely will get a better share of a larger pie when the next round of awards are announced. We at the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce urge area officials to actively participate in this process and help this effort succeed.

– Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce

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Creating An Effective Economic Development Plan For Each Community

It feels like I have been talking about this subject for years. Well, that’s because we have! So I am very excited to know that the Mahopac Carmel Chamber of Commerce recently began talks with the Town of Carmel to develop an action plan in conjunction with the Putnam County Economic Development Corporation and the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce, to create a strong vibrant and inviting community that reflects its diversity, history and culture. By encouraging strong relationships between residents, the Town, businesses, educators, non-profits, and our faith based community, its mission plans to foster a balanced approach to revitalization effort of our downtown areas in the Hamlets of Carmel and Mahopac. We believe by establishing long term private and public partnerships; the Town of Carmel will accomplish the goals and vision for a better place to live, work, play and raise families.

The Task Force will work towards the goals of creating economic value for the business district  of lake Mahopac and greater Carmel area, focusing on the existing downtown core and redeveloping underutilized locations; creating jobs and career opportunities for Town residents; providing net positive tax revenue to the Town and school district; providing a vibrant downtown; restoring and maintaining the Town as a regional destination; fostering a sense of safety and security; capitalizing on existing tourist destinations; providing a mixed-use downtown setting; improving streetscapes and creating a pedestrian friendly “walkable” environment; achieving the adaptive reuse of vacant buildings where appropriate; and creating sustainable development by implementing smart growth and green building design elements in an economically viable plan.

The Putnam County Chambers of Commerce, in its Legislative Priorities 2015, highlights the “need to develop a County-wide Master Plan encompassing the Local Municipalities for a total look at where we are and what we plan for the future.”  And to “communicate the concepts of modern sub-urban/rural development in an area that is increasingly being brought into the Metropolitan ‘Megapolis’”.

To be successful towns will need to employ a variety of concepts in order to develop the plans and engage the community, ensuring reasonable standards for planning, zoning, sign ordinances and other regulations.  This should be emulated everywhere in Putnam County.  Each town is different, so methods and results will also differ; still the reasons for doing so remain the same.  And the sense of urgency has never been greater – it’s time to enact real, positive change to Putnam County’s commerce districts.

We can simply follow the lead of the village of Brewster who is moving full steam ahead with “Envision Brewster” which really paved the path for all municipalities to follow.

-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce

 

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Pushing Putnam’s Economic Agenda Forward

Putnam County’s upcoming PCCC- EDC breakfast (Tuesday, May 5, 8-10AM at Putnam County Golf Course) will highlight opportunities and evaluate progress made towards stated goals. With the President position still unfilled after Meghan Taylor’s departure, there is some uncertainty as to where to go next, but also the realization of a chance to make our premier economic development organization all that it can be in directing the future of our business building efforts.

EDC- type organizations all across New York have been under scrutiny as to their effectiveness and various solutions have been implemented ranging from government takeover to realignment with other organizations or public-private partnerships. At the same time, the competitive nature of the economic development process means that potential opportunities are coming at us and need to be cultivated. So we must look at these issues, but look at them quickly, because the next round of the statewide CFA process is upon us.

Now is the time to be prepared for the 2015 Consolidated Funding Application process which will be announced shortly. This process has become the primary route for New York State funding under the Cuomo Administration and the Mid-Hudson Region is competing in the top-tier for the largest piece of the pie. Municipalities and businesses, working together in private-public partnerships, are given greater consideration when plans for job-creating, tourism-boosting projects are presented. Infrastructure and revitalization programs as well as innovative development and expansion projects have received substantial funding over the last three years, but the presentation must be well thought out and align with the parameters specified in the annual awards announcement. We have a good general idea of what this year’s goals will be as defined by New York State leaders, and will undoubtedly get a better handle on them – if not the official announcement- during former EDC President Meghan Taylor’s appearance at the May 5th breakfast.

-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce

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Economic Development Breakfast To Highlight Region’s Opportunities

As the area’s economy continues on the rise, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce will be hosting a breakfast on Tuesday, May 5th, from 8-10 AM, at the Putnam County Golf Course to look at opportunities and evaluate progress made towards stated goals. The Putnam County Economic Development Corporation is sponsoring the breakfast.

On the agenda is former Putnam EDC President Meghan Taylor in her new role as Director of the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council will be giving pointers on submitting applications for regional funds through the competitive CFA (Collective Funding Application) process. Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress President/CEO Jonathan Drapkin will be sharing insight into the region’s business climate. Drapkin will be joined by March Gallagher, Chief Strategy Officer for this Newburgh-based not-for-profit policy, planning, advocacy and research organization. Their presentation is on changes to the region comparing the pre great recession period to where we find ourselves today in 2015. The presentation is referred to as Pattern on the Road. Also at the event, representatives from Senator Terrence P. Murphy’s office will discuss the recently announced Small Business Regulatory Watch reported on last week. For more information on the Economic Development Breakfast please contact the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce at (845) 228-8595, or visit www.putnamchamberny.org.

 – Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce