PUTNAM POSTING: Preserving and Promoting Putnam County’s Small Business Base

Jennifer Maher | August 2016

The Business Council of Westchester’s Third Quarter 2016 edition of 914INC. magazine has an editorial entitled “Big Ideas From Small Businesses” and a special feature saluting small business in Westchester County. 914INC. Executive Editor Amy Partridge spelled out the reasons for featuring these businesses, and stressed the importance of small businesses in our daily lives, as well as the “spirit and grit of successful entrepreneurship,” including not-for-profit organizations.

Putnam’s small businesses, aside from being the backbone of our economy, provide the amenities, services and jobs that make our local community the place that our well-educated and talented workforce are happy to come home to each night. While we certainly hope that our county is able to attract a “big” business to the area, we must realize and respect the fact that creative and dedicated “small business” people are what make our local economy run. They also pay taxes, generate sales taxes that help support all of us, and are the ones who support our local social, recreational and charitable programs.

Photo Credit: Putnam Tourism Office. Downtown Cold Spring.
Photo Credit: Putnam Tourism Office.
Downtown Cold Spring.

A stroll through the Villages of Brewster or Cold Spring, the hamlets of Carmel or Mahopac or a stop at one of our many restaurants or public spaces is an opportunity to experience the unique life “rhythm” of Putnam County. We are fortunate to be in such close proximity to the metropolis of New York City, yet live in view of such pristine countrysides and/or quaint downtowns.  We should cherish that uniqueness and continue to promote it in any way possible.  At the same time, it would do us well to highlight those businesses and organizations that have distinguished themselves in making our communities what they are today.  That is what chambers of commerce are all about—giving businesses a chance to be recognized and to keep them on a course of economic prosperity.

Putnam County Pathways Can Spur
Economic Development With Balanced Approach

In 1991, the Greenway Act created organizations like the Hudson River Valley Greenway Communities Council to facilitate the process of creating physical linkages (trails, gardens, etc.) between communities in a planned, coordinated fashion.

Putnam County has long sought to capitalize on that process and developed the Putnam County Pathways initiative to do just that. According to its summary document, the program “provides the strategic framework for protecting environmental resources; sustaining agriculture; reinvigorating hamlets, villages and commercial centers; balancing open space and development; and respecting Putnam’s historic and cultural heritage.” Strategies have been considered to enhance public awareness, as well as to develop the use of transportation alternatives “such as trailways, tourism promotion activities, and linkage of open space land resources where possible.”

This “balance” is vital. In the not-so-distant past we saw how the challenge of finding unique ways to support area businesses in an ever-tighter economic climate was met with opposition over green space, bike trails or other areas where environmental concerns were given first priority. Another example—agriculture— the Pathways plan calls for “sustaining agriculture” and promoting agro-tourism.  Sustaining a farm is one thing, advocating for the business of agriculture is another. Farms need to be treated like businesses, to find suitable markets and raise/grow their animal or plant products in a timely manner, and efficiently deliver their goods to these markets. These are challenges for farm business professionals statewide, but even more so in this county.

It is my fervent belief that we need to create a symbiotic relationship between the environmentalist and the economist if Putnam County is going to have a successful future. Nobody wants to see our beautiful county defaced by carelessness or indifference to the concerns of environmental professionals. Still, utilizing our environmental assets is only meaningful to Putnam residents if it involves a tangible economic benefit.

 

Jennifer Maher
Jennifer Maher is chairwoman of the Putnam County Business Council and currently serves as the vice president of the Hudson Valley Chapter of the New York State Commercial Association of Realtors.