A frenzy of sorts has engulfed many communities across New York State as the race to be one of the locations for a new casino is in full swing. The closest location in the running is just across the River in Orange County. The issue has caused many ethical and philosophical debates, but one thing is clear – a lot of money is going to be changing hands over the next few years as huge economic development projects get underway in the affected locations.
So what is Putnam’s equivalent of a casino project, meaning what is our big name project that will bring the big economic boost to our county? And will it only be one project? Perhaps the answer lies in multiple smaller ones that collectively will have a large impact. In recent years various initiatives such as Patterson Crossing, Union Place, and the hotel project in Carmel have been on the table, and efforts continue to bring them to fruition. These promise to create jobs, promote entrepreneurship and broaden our tax base significantly.
Another significant opportunity identified by the Putnam County Chambers’ Industry Task Force is the rehabilitation of Tilly Foster Farm to not only preserve the history of local agriculture for future generations but also spur interesting business opportunities. A general store, history museum, visitor’s center, bed and breakfast, pony rides, event venue and more can be created at the site, using some of the space to house these businesses while at the same time paying homage to the unique and historic nature of the Farm and its significance to our past. The key is to build a sustainable business model, so that the Farm isn’t struggling to survive but rather making plans to thrive. Under a strong public-private partnership, perhaps Putnam County’s unique alternative to the “casino mentality” won’t be such a roll of the dice after all.
-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce