Downtown specialist hits ground running

My first impressions of Jennifer Jennings, Fulton County Center for Regional Growth’s new Gloversville downtown development specialist, are nothing but positive.

The Connecticut native, who studied in London and worked for Schenectady Greenmarket, has an infectious positive vibe about her that will serve the Gloversville area very well. She’s impressive and she’s hit the ground running, with an eye toward helping the CRG bring in new business, and promote downtown with events.

But at the risk of being a buzzkill, it’s the latter part I’m a little skeptical about. Events in Gloversville –with the exception of the fireworks part of the annual Railfest — haven’t always been well attended. There are sparse attractions, especially for adults, and sparse crowds to match.

I hope Jennings realizes Gloversville isn’t quite Schenectady or certainly not Saratoga Springs, as she tries in her own words to make downtown Gloversville a “culturally diverse showcase.” But she’s trying and already put out an events list for public consumption.

It includes a “Cabin Fever Chili Cook-Off,” run by the Business Improvement District, on March 25. Chili consumption five days after the start of spring is all good. I hope the weather doesn’t extend that feverish feeling.

A “Spring Festival” May 6, in conjunction with the first day of the Gloversville Farmers Market, is also an excellent idea.

Also on the list is the city’s third Wine & Food Festival on June 10. Last year’s event may not have been as good as the first one. Large sections of North Main Street were conspicuously open, crying for more vendors. In most “food festivals,” some free samples are available. All the food had to purchased last year.

Jennings is also planning a “Twilight Market” on June 10. She said it will be a once-per-month event featuring local businesses, farmers, food producers and artisans. I hope there’s enough of these area people available.

A “Glove Cities Arts Festival” is coming in August. This would be a juried arts and crafts event featuring artists and artisans, and a variety of handmade products. Promotion will be the key, as is the case in the fall.

I think the most interesting event might be a “Bacon Jam” planned for Oct. 7 and/or 8. Jennings said it will be a “family-friendly event in downtown featuring bacon-centric dishes and local bands.”

Everything tastes good with bacon.

Jennings’ job would be complete if it were to merely drive all of these events and several more she’s planning, without having to bring more retail to downtown. I just hope the CRG isn’t spreading her talents too thin. I would hate to see the success of the events suffer at the expense or more retail, or vice-versa.

The bouncy new Gloversville downtown development specialist would probably say she can do it all.

All the power to Jennifer Jennings.

I hope all her events are promoted to the nth degree. People, and lots of them, are what’s needed downtown.

I just hope expectations aren’t too high for total success.

∫ Is your work situation the type where you’re all in a Catch-22 situation with sickness? In other words, you’re so ill, but you can’t possibly take a day off because you’ve got too much work to do and you can’t burden others. Besides, the Earth might rotate off its axis. The newsroom lately has been like that lately — a bunch of sick, dedicated people bringing you the daily local news.

∫ Fulton County Treasurer Terry Blodgett said Fulton County’s own sales tax receipts for 2016 didn’t meet budget expectations. He said county supervisors budgeted $13.6 million for all of 2016, but only received $13.5 million. Yet, the Fulton County Board of Supervisors budgeted about $13.7 million in sales tax for for 2017 perhaps because of the strong showing throughout 2016.

∫ Anything I say in the column is my opinion. So please don’t feel like I’m picking on you or anyone else. But over the years, I’ve wasted a lot of time trying to get jobs for people who contact me. Or at least in contact with new companies for them. Let me explain it this way: I write a story saying Company XYZ is coming to Fulton County and will create 100 jobs. The reader thinks I have some special pull to get them in. In reality, I’m just your local humble reporter/messenger.

I wish I could get a finder’s fee for these types of stories. But I guess that’s something better left to the “dishonest” media.

∫ Some day, I think local folks will be “whirring” on bike machines, lifting free weights and running on cardio equipment at the new Planet Fitness in Johnstown. But I’m just guessing that, because the project at the Johnstown Mall has been delayed several times since 2015. No date has been set for construction. Now, the reason is a corporate franchise issue about who is going to own it. Since it seems to be so sought-after of a franchise, I’m guessing it will be built eventually.