Have you ever considered what attracts a business to a certain community? Or why you chose to live where you do? Is it the proximity to and a variety of restaurants, entertainment opportunities, or places to work? Did you ever wonder what it took to make your neighborhood one that you WANT to live in? Behind every community is a group of businesses and individuals working to create positive change, those dedicated professionals are economic developers. Economic Development is more than meets the eye, which is why we’re pulling back the curtain to expose all of the moving parts behind making our community a great one to be a part of.
One of economic developers’ favorite phrases is “live, work, play.” No, this isn’t a motivational quote to hang on your kitchen walls, it’s about creating an attractive ecosystem within a community so that people want to be a part of it. This three-word mantra is the driving force for a lot of economic developer’s decisions, and for that, we should all be grateful.
Who doesn’t want to live in a place that gives them the ability to find the job that they WANT to be at, the neighborhood that they WANT to live in, and have access to the activities, events, and experiences that they WANT to be a part of? In fact, if you love where you’re at, you can thank your economic developers.
Let’s look at how each pillar affects our community:
Live: Everything from sidewalks and crosswalks to public transit and childcare fall under the umbrella of living here. They may seem unimportant, but if they weren’t where you wanted or needed them, you’d know the difference. People should have easy access to getting to work, whether it’s walking, taking public transportation, or driving. For example, if there’s a busy intersection, like let’s say, at Ampersand Drive and Rugar Street, it can make it challenging for the community to get to work on time. Economic developers want to reduce barriers to getting to work and planners want to find a solution that benefits the whole community. Planners look at high trafficked areas for convenient traffic lights, bus stops, crosswalks, and sidewalk to make flow better for everyone travelling.
“When developing our community, we look at hard and soft infrastructure. Hard infrastructure would be roadworks, and soft infrastructure is more about what kind of community we want. We tie together ecological resources, population booms, social equity to make living in Plattsburgh better.” — Michael Cashman, Town of Plattsburgh Elected Supervisor
Work: There is an abundance jobs in our region from retail to manufacturing to medical practices. Economic developers want to attract a variety of businesses and jobs to our region to appeal to an array of potential employees. By having attractive job opportunities, growth occurs within the community.
“A doctor looking to work at the hospital here wouldn’t stay without any amenities or community aspects. There needs to be more than just a good working environment, but also a good place to live.” — Trevor Cole, Town of Plattsburgh Planning Director
Play: Economic developers want people to work here and stay, so they must highlight the surroundings of northern New York to appeal to future and present employees. Companies won’t get people to work in a region if there aren’t great factors outside of their professional experience. There is so much value in access to recreational amenities, a variety of local restaurants, presence of culture, etc. . All of these things add to someone’s quality of life and make them want to stay in an area. The Plattsburgh region has great outdoors experiences for those that enjoy hiking, fishing, boating, kayaking, and biking, as well as a growing presence of the arts and cultural connections. All of these rewarding factors are heavily considered when creating plans for to make residents’ quality of life better.
“Tourism and economic development go hand in hand, so we want to create a community for locals to live, work, and play in, while building a positive atmosphere for visitors to come back to.” — Susan Matton, North Country Chamber of Commerce, Vice President of Economic Development
For each of the pillars of live, work, and play, economic developers work hard to create a variety of opportunities that match their diverse community, but also appeal to other demographics that might be missing from their workforce. As we discussed about workforce development, there’s some give and take when bringing a new business or demographic to your community. Having a company whose jobs require a specific type of skillset is great, but if you don’t have anyone to fill those positions, you need to have a plan in place to attract and retain those types of individuals. By continually working to bring new businesses and people to your community, while engaging the folks who already live and work there is a balancing act.
Hungry for more Alphabet soup? Read more! TDC’s Alphabet Soup blog series aims to demystify Economic Development and shed some light on our partners in the community who work to make Northern NY a great place to live and do business.