—by Hugh Hill, Malone Village Trustee & Executive Director, Malone Chamber of Commerce
Checklist of Economic Opportunities:
(1) Develop our tourism economy by creating a modern and effective marketing effort funded by a fee collected from lodging visitors and managed by a private sector board of directors based on the proven record of success in Essex and Clinton Counties. (This opportunity deserves an essay all by itself!)
(2) Understand and exploit the seasonal resident potential by developing housing that takes advantage of our proximity to Titus Mountain, the golf course and the residential lakes in the area. Building. Selling 15-25 seasonal residences a year would have a multi-million dollar annual impact locally, providing new revenue for business and municipal governments. I think the potential is greater than the number I mentioned because we are 1.5 hour away from the nearly 4 million residents of Montreal, whose per-capita incomes are among the highest in North America.
(3) Domain and brand the area a value-added agricultural food basket specializing in agricultural products we already produce (dairy products, maple syrup, etc.) and are capable of producing in greater quantities (organic meats, tree fruits, specialty produce and high-value products like vegetable oils, beer, wine and more).
(4) Create an agricultural incubator space that would help small producers reach consumer markets by using shared administrative services (order taking, shipping services, etc.) and health department certified production equipment that they cannot afford to own when transitioning from home production to commercial production.
(5) Clean-up and fix-up local communities & neighborhoods through code enforcement, and deal with restrictive state and federal rules that prevent the removal of blight. This will be a small step in positioning our communities to better attract some of the estimated 10,000 Baby Boomers a day who are turning 65 years old (76 million people). That daily trend started last year and will continue every single day for the next 19 years. America is ill-prepared to house and service the changing needs of this gigantic number of people. We have an opportunity here!
Communities like Malone are safe, have nearby high quality health care services, retail services, are walkable, pretty, and have plenty of quality housing stock that savvy investors can convert into housing that meets the needs of an aging population. Naturally, municipal efforts must be directed at blight removal, law enforcement and improving services that will be attractive to an aging population (lighting, transportation, cultural offerings, etc.). Attracting a few dozen individuals a year could have a significant economic impact, since this population brings its own income and demands few taxpayer-funded services (like police, courts and social services).
(6) Build upon the already robust medical training program offered by North Country Community College to help supply the nation with as many medically-trained students as possible to fill the need for caring for aging Boomers. America is unable to train the numbers needed and is expected to import medical personnel in every single medical field from other nations and will still fall short of the needed numbers. This presents an opportunity for NCCC to grow and expand it’s student population. The spin-off economic benefit to the community could be immense.
There are many other ways to improve Malone’s economy and boost our resident population using existing resources. Step One is understanding what we have. At every step of the way, we must make our local governments more efficient and must make our communities cleaner, safer and more attractive.