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Symposium set to revitalize downtowns

September 12, 2012
By MICHAEL ANICH , The Leader Herald

JOHNSTOWN - Business and economic development leaders from Fulton and Montgomery counties are looking to rejuvenate the region with a Downtown Revitalization Symposium set for Dec. 6 at the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services center.

The idea for the symposium came out of the CEO Roundtable group's Regional Business Plan from August 2011.

Area officials this week expressed enthusiasm about the symposium, which will be chaired by Fulton-Montgomery Community College President Dustin Swanger.

Fulton County Center for Regional Growth President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Reese said Monday an agenda for the event began to be finalized last week.

The hope for the symposium, at a minimum, is to develop ways to revitalize the cities of Gloversville and Johnstown in Fulton County and the city of Amsterdam in Montgomery County.

"While the [regional business] plan is very interested in bringing the region up, we recognize and support that the three cities really can provide the social center for the region if we plan it that way," Swanger said Tuesday.

Swanger said he has already lined up Auburn Mayor Michael Quill as a speaker to attend the symposium. Swanger said he would also like to have a marketing specialist provide expertise on how to revitalize downtown areas.

"We want to do a panel discussion with developers," Swanger added.

Reese said the CEO Roundtable - a group of area business, education and civic leaders - will sponsor the symposium. Reese said he has met with several people to organize the event, including Swanger, Fulton County Regional Chamber of Commerce & Industry President Mark Kilmer, and Montgomery County Economic Development and Planning Director Kenneth Rose.

"It kind of came out of the Regional Business Plan," Reese said.

That plan had specific timelines, and the Dec. 6 event is later than originally intended. The plan stated local governments, planning boards and the two counties' chambers of commerce should conduct a "downtown redevelopment summit" in spring 2012. The plan specified an agenda that included: discussing "existing issues and concerns" of regional downtown areas, discussing ideas and opportunities for redevelopment and doing a "review of case studies of successful downtown redevelopment projects" in New York state's municipalities.

The Regional Business Plan also requested that by the end of each year, each city and village in the two counties "should complete a Downtown Revitaliztion Plan for their downtowns." Plans by the municipalities - as recommended by the CEO group - have not been completed yet.

Those plans are to include a vision statement, identification of businesses needed, marketing initiatives, potential tax incentives to encourage downtown building restoration, and a land-use plan for downtowns.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at johnstown@leaderherald.com.

 
 

 

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