Good News, Bad News

Posted: December 21, 2011 in City Marketing

I thought it was ironic that last week we saw a string of crime-related stories come out at the same time as we were discussing the role of the local media in shaping Amsterdam’s perception of itself. The bad news started with vandalism in the Riverlink Park, then attempted robbery of a pizza delivery person, a stabbing, hate-filled graffiti, and finally a guy at Target exposing himself in public. This was not the greatest week for Amsterdam from a news perspective!

Now I am absolutely not going criticize the local media for their coverage, even when these types of stories, without fail, generate demoralizing comments such as the one left on the Recorder’s Facebook page that reads:

I think The Recorder generally does a fair job of covering both positive and negative events in Amsterdam. But what I do want to point out is that these stories pretty much all got picked up by Capital Region television news stations and the Times Union – media outlets that rarely, if ever, put out positive stories about Amsterdam. This example leaves no doubt: shocking and negative news spreads quickly and easily. Positive news, however, seems to take some work.

So it’s with this point in mind that I want to expand on the assertion I made in the previous post. I believe The Recorder contributes to a negative external and internal perception of Amsterdam because its editorial articles have consistently and vehemently opposed the idea of promoting a positive image of Amsterdam.  That is why I believe they deserve a place in the “weaknesses” area of the S.W.O.T. analysis. Here’s just a sampling of what I mean…

Yes, the city is making progress, but has it made enough to be truly enticing?…Our advice to the mayor and Common Council is to put the implementation of the “Small City. Big Heart” marketing campaign on hold until we have more to offer visitors.

… we’re not sure the city is ready to be marketed…People intrigued by the marketing campaign still won’t buy a house here without checking the city out first. Right now, it’s like having friends over to check out your new big-screen TV, but you didn’t finish cleaning the house.

Being that neither the publisher of The Recorder, nor its editors currently reside in the city (yep, I’m bringing that up!), I’m willing to bet that none of them have taken a good look recently at the overall condition of the city’s neighborhoods. If they had, I think they would have come to a different conclusion. I’ve walked all over the city over the past few years, and there are plenty of great looking neighborhoods in the West End, upper Locust Ave area, Market Hill area, Henrietta Ave area, Church St/Rockton area, the South Side and others. These are areas with lots of well maintained housing that any middle class home buyer would be proud to own. The fact is that year after year, people do in fact (with no gun to their head) decide to start businesses or own a homes in Amsterdam.

But that message doesn’t get out there. The crime and profanity does. Mayor Thane has taken up the task of working to get the positive message out to prospective businesses and residents because no one else has. Why does The Recorder constantly speak out against this? (I counted at least 5 editorials in the space of 2 years.)  Is it because marketing the city runs counter to their pro-consolidation stance? Or might their stance be influenced by the bleak outlook of the print news industry?  Should we as a community take economic advice from an organization that stands a good chance of becoming extinct in 10 to 20 years?

If anyone doubts the importance of promoting a positive image, I would ask why corporations spend billions of dollars every year on advertising to make sure their products have a favorable image. The answer is simple: because they know it works. They wouldn’t spend the money if it didn’t.

The Recorder certainly does their fair share of reporting on the positive events and that is to be commended. But it’s obvious that the good news rarely gets picked up on it’s own by other news organizations in the region. If The Recorder truly believes in Amsterdam as a city, then the least it could do is stop trying to shoot down anyone working to get the positive news out. At best, they could decide to actively support the effort to market the city to potential residents and businesses, contributing to the effort to improve Amsterdam’s perception of itself and in the surrounding region, rather than working against it.

  1. I disagree with your assessment of the Recorder. They should play no part in marketing the city. They exist to report the news both good and bad. They did not initially report the Hate Crime in the print edition.

    I sent the following message to both local papers, Amsterdam Police Department and the Amsterdam City Council. The only response I received was from the Editor of the Recorder who decided to print the story.

    “I was appalled by the lack of coverage or statement from the administration about this disgusting event that defaced pylons and cars at Riverfront Center and Riverlink Park as solely reported by Fox 23 News. Statements of pure hate directed at gays and Jews is a threat our City should not tolerate. Toppled flowerpots made front-page coverage yet this crime received no local acknowledgement from our elected officials and no media attention the local papers.

    The title of the article “Graphic Graffiti Shocks Local City” is a little misleading, because most of the city was not informed about this serious event. The local papers never reported it and from what I was told, the Mayor was upset that the information got out. Good or bad, the citizens have a right to know what is going on in their community, especially a threat to Jews and gays who are protected by the NYS Hate Crime Act. Whether a juvenile committed this crime or someone over 17, it is just as serious of a threat. Unless you have been on the receiving end of this type of threat, you have no idea the impact it has. That is the very reason the Hate Crime Act was instituted, yet every DA is hesitant about charging anyone with a Hate Crime.

    The City has a duty to enforce the law as written. You cannot pick and choose which laws to enforce and you cannot ignore actions such as these. The Mayor has an obligation to the City, not just for marketing purposes but to the safety and wellbeing of the residents as well.

    As a gay man of Jewish lineage, I feel threatened by this recent act of criminal mischief and I am requesting prosecution to the fullest extend to the law.”

    • Tim Becker says:

      Just to clarify – I wasn’t suggesting the Recorder should actively market the city themselves. I also have *no problem* with the Recorder running stories on crime and such, that’s their job. I also recognize that the Recorder prints plenty of positive stories about the area as well. My point was that the Recorder has come out quite forcefully, in their editorials, against the idea of the Mayor’s office (or anyone in the city really) doing city marketing – that it’s not her job – that the county should do it, that the chamber should do it (guess what- they’re not doing it).

      Active city marketing would serve to balance out the negative news that spreads effortlessly into the regional news outlets and help improve the marketability of the city. I’d just like to see the Recorder stop trying to shoot down this effort or maybe actually support the effort – I’m not asking them to do the marketing themselves.

      I find the graffiti incident abhorrent myself, and I can understand your particular sensitivity to it.

      • Marketing the City was never the job of the Mayor. It’s not part of the job description. There are agencies like the Planning Commission, AIDA and the Chamber of Commerce, who share in that responsibility. A good leader would see these agencies through that task, and would not try to take on the additional responsibility themselves. Micro-managing to the point of ineffectiveness is not beneficial to anyone.

        Mayor Thane has made marketing her primary responsibility to the detriment of those who feel other duties and responsibilities are lacking.

        Amsterdam doesn’t need another cheerleader, it needs a Mayor who can lead.

      • Rob Millan says:

        Not in the job description? Tell me you aren’t serious, Jeri. Does it need to be there verbatim? The answer is no. I’m pretty sure above all ‘lead’ and ‘execute’ are there, and I’d argue that taking on the additional responsibilities are in fact leading. There are a lot of things in my job description; yet I find myself doing more things not on there than in there. That’s because I’m expected to be a leader, and leaders take on responsibilities and self-direct themselves to prove they can work independently and efficiently. When our secretary calls in sick, the place doesn’t just shut down because no one can answer the phone or schedule a conference between opponents.

        I’d rather have someone than no one doing it, and AIDA and the Chamber, while arguably effective, have greater responsibilities and certainly a less-focused scope of responsibility versus someone right in tune with the goings-on. The mayor has taken the bull by the horns on this one.

        Also, we go back to the Catch-22 argument that people complain the city isn’t marketed as it should be, and then when it is, complain that we shouldn’t have someone marketing the place. If you remember, there was great opposition to the confidential aide position who would have taken some marketing responsibilities and then more opposition to funding a marketing line. It’s like acknowledging the need while also denying its ability to work by not budgeting or allowing someone. The Council did just that.

        What some people fail to first acknowledge and then accept is that times have changed. Way back when, you didn’t need to market Amsterdam; it was implied that it was an industrial town with the necessary rail, water, and highway connections, infrastructure, resources, and labor pool. Today we need to do everything we can to compete with Troy, Cohoes, and Schenectady. That’s not easy to do from our disenfranchised position on the outskirts of Albany.

        If you ask me, I don’t think enough money is allotted to marketing.

      • Tim Becker says:

        I think the Mayor has shown good leadership in this area as she has crafted a much needed vision. We now have a solid beginning of a marketing plan which includes branding, graphic design, key strengths and compelling narrative, all of which we can continue to build on if we choose. None of this existed before and I highly doubt any other organization would have come up with it on their own.

        As far as the organizations you mentioned, Jerry – I can’t see how it’s the Planning Commission’s job to do marketing, that’s the first time I’ve heard anyone suggest that. The Chamber would make a good partner, but their scope is all of Montgomery County and I can’t see how we could expect them to focus on the City of Amsterdam.

        Now AIDA is an organization that I might expect some marketing work to be done by. I think they have done some. But you’ve suggested they be disbanded. I think I’ve shown that AIDA’s focus is larger industries, and I don’t think they are suited to marketing to small business owners or in the residential arena.

        I do agree that ideally, the Mayor should be directing a team of people to handle marketing. I don’t think the right team currently exists, and that’s why I don’t fault the Mayor for doing the work herself. I really don’t buy into the idea that somehow her marketing work has caused her to be deficient in other areas.

        What about this idea – replace AIDA with a new public/private organization that has a threefold mission…

        1. Market the city to, and provide funding for larger, manufacturing/wharehouse type businesses, while administering the industrial park, partnering with the county or town as needed.

        2. Market the city to and provide funding for small businesses and sole proprietors, keeping a current inventory of smaller spaces that can be purchased or rented.

        3. Market the city to homebuyers and the real estate industry, working to get a positive image out to the Capital Region.

        Too much for one organization?

  2. karin says:

    Great idea, Tim! A creative team with various backgrounds that want to toss around new, exciting and fresh ideas on how to reinvent our city. And it should be soon . . .

  3. Tim, I respectfully disagree with your assessment of the Mayor’s leadership ability. A leader would insist on those tasked with these responsibilities, do their jobs. If they cannot deliver, they should be replaced. With appointing authority over most of the responsible agencies, what changes have been made to increase productivity?

    We need to take a look at the responsibilities of these agencies as stated by law.

    AIDA – governmental agency, members appointed by the Mayor
    The purposes of the agency shall be to promote, develop, encourage and assist in the acquiring, constructing, reconstructing, improving, maintaining, equipping and furnishing industrial, manufacturing, warehousing, commercial, research and recreation facilities including industrial pollution control facilities, educational or cultural facilities, railroad facilities, horse racing facilities, automobile racing facilities.

    Planning Commission – governmental agency, members appointed by the Mayor
    The City Planning Commission shall:
    A. Prepare and adopt a master plan as authorized and required by law for the development of the City and submit such plan to the Common Council for approval. Such plans shall be periodically revised.
    B. Study and approve all community development plans, programs and activities for the City and render such advice and assistance to the Mayor and the Common Council as the Board deems advisable.
    C. (Reserved) Editor’s Note: Former Subsection C, regarding the capital program and budget, was repealed 1-21-1997 by L.L. No. 1-1997.
    D. Maintain current information concerning the availability of federal and state financial and other aids and advise the Mayor and other department and agency heads concerning possible sources of such funds and other assistance.

    Amsterdam Urban Renewal Agency – governmental agency, members appointed by the Mayor
    Main purpose is to renovated blighted areas of the City.

    Amsterdam Housing Authority – governmental agency, members appointed by the Mayor
    Purpose is to provide housing and maintenance for income eligible individuals and families.

    Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce – private organization, self-governed
    The Chamber collaboratively coordinates and leverages the energy, talent and leadership of individuals and business to make Montgomery County a better place to do business on your behalf, every day. Through various programs, projects and activities, we contribute to improving the quality of life for everyone, businesses and residents.

    The Mayor has no governmental control of the Chamber of Commerce. Whether or not they get funding from Montgomery County, they are less interested in tourism and more interested in promoting business.

    We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There are agencies in place responsible for making Amsterdam a better place to live and do business. They just need a little leadership to pull them together and weed out the non-functioning members.

    • Tim Becker says:

      Thanks for the excerpts, those are helpful. It looks to me that the only organization that has a description with any language that resembles marketing is AIDA (ie ” promote, develop, encourage “.) The way I read it, the Planning Commission’s job is internal, there’s nothing there to indicate that they should be working on marketing the city in the wider region.

      Maybe one way to go would be to update the descriptions of these groups to specifically include marketing duties. But that almost seems like strapping a motor to a bicycle, when what you really need is a motorcycle.

      • Should any city employee be working on marketing the City to a wider region? The Amsterdam City Charter does not provide for marketing campaigns. I don’t think a referendum would approve of such a change and the added expenditure at this time. The focus should be on much needed infrastructure improvements and eradication of the blighted areas of the City.

        I still feel a coordinated effort by all of the agencies I mentioned previously will help tremendously. That where the Mayor can really make a difference.

      • Tim Becker says:

        Well, the charter may not specifically call for it, but it doesn’t prohibit it either. Mayor Thane clearly had city marketing in her election platform, and I would say her election victory could be viewed as a referendum on the subject, and certainly gives her the mandate to do that. I would say she would be breaking her election promises if she didn’t continue the marketing effort.

        I’ve always agreed that infrastructure is part of the whole marketing picture. Infrastructure projects require multiple millions though. We are either going to have to borrow heavily to fund these projects or wait for various federal or state funding to come in. Do you think that cutting marketing and other similar expenses add up to any more than five figures? Where is the money going to come from? What’s to focus on while we are waiting for the funds to come in?

        I understand the idea of thinking that creating a good product will sell itself. But look at any company in the business world that has staged a comeback. Look at Domino’s Pizza – they improved their product – but they also spent millions on advertising that addressed the existing negative opinions. And it worked!

  4. karin says:

    You can’t sell anything without a creative marketing plan and a vision. You need a talented group with a drive for success, the willingness to go that extra mile and who are able to sell a product . . . in this case, our beautiful City. It’s about time we get up to speed with every other thriving city in our area. We have so much to offer!

    • Rob Millan says:

      To add to Karin’s comment, I think it’s vastly important for the city to ‘one-up’ the negative press it gets by demonstrating that it actually isn’t the bad place people outside see it as. If the city didn’t have marketing or any kind of damage control, only people unfamiliar with Amsterdam would have a greater say in the image of a place they have no vested interest in, grounded only in rumor of rumors.
      If you have no problem with this, fine; but to do so would mean admitting you in fact live in a ‘crime ridden, deteriorated, filthy place.’

  5. Ann M. Thane says:

    I’d like to set some facts straight.

    The Council, not the Mayor, appoints the AIDA board. That is the extent of the City’s power over that board. Once appointed, they are an independent authority created through State legislation. I have contended for four years that they should be working more closely with the City as they were conceived as an arm for economic development to support City operations. Over the years, they had become increasingly independent, seemingly without a plan that was in keeping with the City’s Comprehensive Plan. In fact, the absence of a plan of action with established strategies and goals had been a concern I had voiced many times. I have a renewed sense of hope now that they have a new, capable director that shares a vision for the future in keeping with the articulated plan dictated by our constituents. He and I meet a couple of times a week and work well together. Also, State law had recently changed and IDA’s may direct their energies toward development beyond the industrial. AIDA is focusing on downtown revitalization starting with the purchase of the United Way building to offer commercial and professional space.

    The Planning Commission had been approached about revisiting the Master Plan, but the job is beyond their expertise at this point. As had been the case when the original document was drafted, we will require financial support by the council to facilitate this venture. It is my intent to progress this project in the coming term. The Planning Board does not do marketing or economic development, though they play an important role in the process.

    URA is an independent authority like AIDA, is appointed by me and is actively working with my office to facilitate neighborhood revitalization. They have been involved in assessment, planning, grant requests, and administration of several programs geared toward residential rehabilitation. They do not market either, as they have limited financial resources and only part-time staffing.

    AHA is a federally created entity. Though I appoint their board, the City’s power ends there. They have a very defined mission and cannot work to promote economic development. They had created a not-for-profit arm, Rivercrest Development, that works with URA and my office on neighborhood revitalization. They finished 208 Guy Park Avenue last year and are working on a second structure on the corner of Clinton and Division Streets (behind 208) in an area we had focused a CDBG grant and demolitions. This helped save a section of that area from demise.

    There has been quite a bit of discourse about starting a new private/public development agency. I think it would be better to reconstitute the chartered Community and Economic Development Department (CEDD) than to create yet another organization. We are already swarming with planning and economic development agencies (those mentioned above as well as as well as the County, BEA, IFA, MVEDC, CED, MVREDC and the Chamber.) To point: 1. We’ve long recognized the concept of “one-stop shopping” as attractive to outside interests; 2. starting any new entity would require state involvement of some sort (enabling legislation or granted not-for-profit status) and the resources to start up such an enterprise (capital, legal advise, clearly delineated mission, vision, strategic plan, bank accounts, staffing, etc.); and 3. you must allow for plenty of time to launch the new ship, because none of this can happen overnight. We need to be functional today.

    This city needs a Community and Economic Development Department, plain and simple, to collaborate with all of these organizations, as well as surrounding counties and the State. We have additional needs: website updating, community event planning and promotion, master planning, neighborhood engagement, lobbying state agencies, marketing and communication. I do what I am able to promote growth while still overseeing the rest of City operations (including infrastructure improvements) and am criticized for my efforts or lack thereof (damned if you do, damned if you don’t.) I think it easier for my critics to cast aspersions than to acknowledge that without a meaningful investment in economic development, the City is without a department to manage these responsibilities and its own interests. Without a dedicated department to muscle these tasks, we will only be able to make marginal progress along these lines.

    It’s critically important that business people, community leaders, and our intelligencia of all ages are vocal beyond this forum when progressive initiatives are proposed. Call your alderman, talk to friends, write a letter to the editor, call the radio, and show up at Council meetings. The naysayers do. You’ve got to make noise to be heard. These blogs are merely a whisper. The City needs to hear your battle cry.

    One last note: thank you, Tim, for noting my achievements and ambitions. I remain optimistic that we will one day see our aspirations realized.

    • I would also like to correct some facts listed here. The AIDA Board serves “at the pleasure of the governing body of the municipality”. Therefore if the “governing body” is not pleased with their performance, they should take the corrective action and replace the board members with someone who will get the job done.

      The same can be said for the other agencies and boards that are not functioning or do not have the expertise to complete their duties as directed by the charter.

      Let’s look at the defunct Community and Economic Development Department as listed by the Charter.

      Article XXII
      Community and Economic Development Department (§ C-149 – § C-150)
      [Added 5-20-1997 by L.L. No. 5-1997]
      § C-149
      Establishment of Department.
      A Community and Economic Development Department shall be headed by an Administrator appointed by the Mayor, with Common Council approval, for a term of office coterminous with the Mayor’s term, to serve at the Mayor’s pleasure.
      § C-150
      Duties of Administrator.
      The duties of the Administrator shall be as follows:
      A. To act as a full-time administrator of the Urban Renewal Agency and Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency offices to ensure a coordinated and comprehensive approach to community and economic development within the City of Amsterdam.
      B. To develop and administer a combined and integrated staff to support the Urban Renewal Agency, Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency and other community-based programs recognized by the Common Council.
      C. To administer and keep detailed financial records according to generally accepted accounting principles for each of the above respective departments, programs and volunteer initiatives.
      D. To aggressively seek, prepare, review and administer all aspects of grants sought by the City of Amsterdam and maintain detailed financial and administrative records of every grant received by the City.
      E. To appoint, with the Mayor’s approval, project managers when grant budgets permit for various projects that may come under the jurisdiction of this Department, after seeking the advice of the Board of Directors of the agency involved.
      F. To oversee all volunteer community-based initiatives, recognized by resolution of the Common Council, and to provide administrative services and technical support to the various community-based initiatives so recognized.
      G. To coordinate the financial affairs of the Community and Economic Development Department with the City Controller.
      H. To assist the City Planning Commission in updating the City’s current Master Plan.
      I. To advise and coordinate with City and county planning offices.
      J. To undertake any other community and economic development duties deemed necessary by the Mayor.

      I don’t see any marketing duties listed here either!

      If Amsterdam’s Legislative and Executive government started working together and improved lines of communication, we would also get a lot more accomplished.

  6. Ann M. Thane says:

    BTW, this is what our Confidential Aide was working on when his $16,000 line was eliminated from the budget:

    o Press releases
    o Official statements
    o Draft official correspondence
    o Proclamations
    o Social networking
    o Coordinate website updates with Engines of Creation
    o Provide updates to Waterfront messaging board for Waterfront Foundation
    o Respond to constituent submissions to website contact form (often requires additional research/investigation)

    o Currently preparing Legislative Gazette feature
    o Drafted marketing strategy
    o Securing voice talent, scripting, casting for radio commercials
    o Devised downtown marketing strategy presented to Downtown Development committee
    o Working to secure $20,000.00 marketing reimbursement from National Grid Branding Grant

    Economic Development
    o Compiled comprehensive listing of Downtown properties for interested property/business developers
    o Assisting AIDA director in comprehensive property listing of ancillary business listings (property template and photos)
    o Initiated business outreach efforts to potential developers/business in efforts to attract downtown business prospects
    o Developing incubator program for Graduate Business students with area business schools to provide office space for new businesses opened by recently graduated MBA students.
    o Provide assistance to mayor in outreach efforts to secure OFT data center.
    o Directing Year-Up proposal with NYS CIO/OFT for Amsterdam satellite office

    Neighborhood Initiatives
    o Direct efforts of Amsterdam Neighborhood Association
    o Liaison with APD director of Neighborhood Watch
    o Coordinate community events, volunteer activities
    o Liaison between community organizers and Office of the Mayor
    o Design/print marketing for publicity

    Advisor to mayor
    o Provide budgetary analysis
    o General research and opinion issuance
    o Coordinating w/ AHS in creation of Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council
    o Stand in for mayor at minor occasions in absence

    Inter-Department assistance
    o Provide intermittent I.T. support within various departments
    o Assisted Clerk’s office in devising new proposed FOIL form and policy
    o Wrote grant application for record’s management
    o Assisted Transit dept. with compiling reporting

    Future projects:
    o Fair Housing/Rehabilitation program
    o Green energy initiative/Municipal utility district

    • The listing is indicative of the same problem that plagued Schenectady in a recent audit, duplication of efforts. Many of the duties listed for the position of Confidential Aide are the responsibility of other employees and City agencies.

      Instead of insisting on compliance with duties already established by job description, State law or local Charter, another position is created at taxpayer’s expense.

      Communications –
      Duties such as preparing press releases, official correspondance and proclamations should be the duty of the current Executive Aide.

      Since the City Clerk is tasked with publishing official notices to the media authenticating and keeping all records , it is reasonable that updating the City website and social media should be the responsibility of the Clerk.

      Marketing –
      Finding sources of funding and advising the Mayor of the same is the duty of the Planning Commission (D. Maintain current information concerning the availability of federal and state financial and other aids and advise the Mayor and other department and agency heads concerning possible sources of such funds and other assistance).

      Economic Development –
      AIDA responsibility, Advisor to the Mayor-Department Heads, Stand in for the Mayor – Deputy Mayor

      Neighborhood Initiatives –
      Should be the responsibility of the respective Aldermen.

      Inter-Department Assistance –
      I do realize that there is a need for marketing and IT in today’s society. Every office has a computer and it is essential that these systems are maintained and secured. I would advocate for such a position, but it should not be a catch-all for jobs that others should be doing. That’s why we have unions.

      Future Projects-
      Fair Housing Initiative – Amsterdam Housing Authority, Amsterdam Urban Renewal
      Green Energy Initiative – AIDA, Montgomery County IDA

  7. Ann M. Thane says:

    I found this interesting comment in my inbox dated May 17, 2010 regarding the CEDD from Jerry Skrocki. It also references my desire to see another code enforcement officer in place:

    “Excellent commentary! I agree wholeheartedly with your vision and plan.

    If this is to work, we need the cooperation of the Common Council. This includes restoring the code enforcement position as this is an integral part of revitalization. We can create local laws and ordinances, but if we do not enforce them they are just worthless reminders of what could have been.

    An example is the Community and Economic Development Department (Charter Article XXII, C149 – C150) referenced in your commentary. This IS the missing link in revitalization. Although still appears in the Charter, former Corporation Council Robert Going claims it has been rescinded by local law. Can we have some clarification on this issue?”

    Again, I think this comment is very interesting, given the conversation we are now having.

    During budget discussions earlier this year, I had drafted an edited job description for the CEDD, as I had requested that the department be refunded. I had expected discussion as to the merits of this board and input from the Council. This is a discussion that still needs to be had. The draft job description is as follows:

    CEDD Draft Job Description

    The City’s Community & Economic Development Department provides leadership and technical assistance to business, residents and elected officials to:
    – Provide direction and momentum for revitalization of the City’s commercial and industrial areas;
    – Maintain a business friendly and investment friendly atmosphere to encourage economic development;
    – Provide a system for sustainable development and preservation of the City’s historic fabric;
    – Develop and support activities and programs that increase the quality of life in the City of Amsterdam

    The CEDD is responsible for the areas of economic development, planning, downtown redevelopment, historic preservation and physical regeneration of the City. This includes retail and industrial development assistance, staff support to City boards and not-for-profit community organizations, marketing, comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance revisions, and historic landmark designation.

    – Assist new and existing businesses with expansion or retention projects.
    – Develop and Assist a Downtown Amsterdam Business Improvement District (BID).
    – Provide staff support to the Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Micro-enterprise Committee.
    – Develop/update marketing materials for ongoing economic development in the City.
    – Provide development planning services.
    – Administer the City’s business loan fund and other grant programs.
    – Support the city’s cultural heritage and other tourism efforts.
    – To undertake any other community and economic development duties deemed necessary by the Mayor.

    – Business Data Tracking
    – Business Outreach and Retention
    – Project and Contract Management
    – New Business and Business Expansion Entitlement Processing
    – Liaison Between the Local Business Community and City Resources
    – Overall Management of Marketing and Economic Development Efforts

    General Assistance
    The Department of Community Development will provide a number of services to make the process of opening or expanding a business as easy as possible. The Department will provide direction on what permits are needed and who needs to be contacted. The Department will act as a liaison with other economic development agencies such as the Amsterdam Industrial Agency, Amsterdam Urban Renewal Agency, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, Montgomery County Industrial Development Agency, and the Empire Zone, and act as an advocate for businesses with other city departments.

    Revolving Loan Fund
    The Department of Community Development will develop and administer a City Loan Fund. Businesses that create or retain jobs in the City of Amsterdam may be eligible for assistance. Example: A business can obtain loans of up to $30,000 for equipment, real estate acquisition or improvements, or working capital. Loans can be obtained for to 5 up years. Current rates may be the prime rate -1 for targeted businesses such as manufacturing and niche retail or restaurants. Other businesses receive a prime +1 rate. Decisions on loans will made by a committee of local peers who run businesses or live in Amsterdam.

    • The current economic situation and State trend is to consolidate and downsize government wherever possible (AKA doing more with less). Governor Cuomo’s SAGE Commission details proposed changes to State Agencies that will improve efficiency while saving tax dollars.

      My opinion about filling the Community and Economic Development position has not changed. It should be filled with duties adjusted or removed from the Charter. The legal question I posed in May 2010 was never answered. Was the position previously removed from the Charter by local law, or just the funding? It still appears in the online version of the City Code but the Corporation Council in place at the time claims it was officially removed along with the funding.

      My objection is to creating yet another position to be used as a catch-all for duties that others should be performing, or having our Chief Executive Officer distracted with marketing duties.

      I realize that in reality this is a difficult task to accomplish but we have to start looking at local government from this new perspective.

      I do commend Mayor Thane for the comminication effort. It is something that I have not experienced from her in quite a while. I think there is hope for 2012!

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