Displaying items by tag: Todd Shimkus

One week ago, I was invited to testify before the New York State Assembly’s Racing and Wagering Committee chaired by Assemblyman Gary Pretlow. Joining him at the hearing were local Assembly members Carrie Woerner and Angelo Santabarbara. Besides my testimony, the committee heard from locals like James and Tina Bond, of the Bond Racing Stables, Dr. Scott Ahlschwede of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, and David O’Rourke, the CEO of NYRA.

We were all there as part of a near day-long fact check on the status of both the state’s thoroughbred and Standardbred racing industries. To me, the best news of the day was hearing Chairman Pretlow state: “One of my stated goals is to make New York State the horse racing capital of the world.” As he said this, I watched as all of the committee members shook their heads in agreement.

Not everyone in the Assembly feels this way, however. Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Manhattan Democrat, has filed legislation to redirect VLT revenues away from horse racing. When asked about her bill by David Lombardo, on a recent Capital Press Room broadcast, the Assemblywoman made several comments which indicated she is not yet fully informed about the importance and value of horse racing in New York’s economy, particularly here in Saratoga. 

“The stands are mostly empty,” Assemblywoman Rosenthal said. “Horse racing is not a year-round industry,” she added. She appeared to suggest that Saratoga would not suffer if horse racing at the Saratoga Race Course and Saratoga Casino Hotel were eliminated. She then called the franchise agreement between NYRA and the state, in which the state gained ownership to the race track properties in Saratoga, at Belmont and Aqueduct, as a “secret arrangement.”

It’s no secret to anyone that follows horse racing that we had paid attendance at this Summer Meeting in Saratoga that topped one million. We had a record all-sources handle. We had unprecedented media coverage. The popularity of horse racing in our community at just the Saratoga Race Course showed not only at the track but also in our hotels, bars, restaurants and retail stores all summer long. 

In her interview, Assemblywoman Rosenthal added that she had only heard negative comments from the horse racing industry to her legislation so far. That’s why I want to invite her to Saratoga. I think before she advocates for legislation that would do harm to Saratoga that she should come and talk with us directly face-to-face. Maybe we could do this next summer when she could see the track filled with thousands of fans every day. I’d love to expand this tour to include SPAC, the Casino, UPH, Caffé Lena, our parks and historic properties, our downtown stores, shops, hotels and restaurants, our horse farms, golf courses, and the City Center. 

It would be great if we could talk with her about how devastated we were when all of these destinations were closed in 2020. Maybe such a discussion and tour would make it clear to her that the secret to our success in Upstate New York is that we’ve built a multi-faceted ecosystem. Perhaps she’d then understand that doing harm to anyone of these civic institutions is a threat to all of them and to our quality of life as well as our economic sustainability.

During my testimony, I veered from the text that I had prepared. “If you look at the tie I’m wearing today, it is a horse tie purchased a Dark Horse of Saratoga,” I told the committee. “If you were to call my cell phone right now, you’d hear my ring tone which is the Call to Post. I’m probably the only Chamber President in the country where this all makes sense. But this speaks to just how important this industry is to Saratoga.” Our story is important. She needs to come see and hear it. 

Published in Business
Thursday, 15 April 2021 13:45

Still Stronger Together in 2021

On Thursday, April 8, 2021, at 9:00 a.m., I met up with Ryan McMahon, Darryl Leggieri, and Deann Devitt on the City Center’s surface parking lot. We were meeting with Peter and Cole Gailor, of Gailor Landscaping. They had generously agreed to help us move concrete blocks to support the local restaurants on Henry, Caroline and Phila Street.

One year ago, D.A. Collins had donated and installed these concrete blocks in the same places. Over the winter, the City Center had stored them so that they could be reused. With several new restaurants participating this year, D.A. Collins would again help us out. Standing there looking at the blocks before they were moved, the four of us reminisced a little bit. Not one of us ever thought we’d still be doing this a year later. But the virus had other ideas.

Last March, we formed a partnership with the Saratoga County Chamber, Discover Saratoga, the Downtown Business Association, the City Center and the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership. We had been meeting every week since. We had been talking, texting and collaborating nearly every day since. We had help as well from Samantha Bosshart, from the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, and Martin Mbugua, from Skidmore College. 

We said that if you called any one of us, we’d all come to help. We did this. We are still doing this. It was this Saratoga Crew that gathered information that all of us shared via email and social media to help local organizations to stay informed about EIDL and PPP loans; reopening protocols; special promotions and events. We coordinated on a range of advocacy efforts. We created and distributed hundreds of recovery kits filled with PPE to area employers as they reopened. We were the ones that drafted and then implemented the Saratoga County Economic Recovery Plan. We organized Saratoga County’s reopening ribbon cutting and the Save Our Locals campaign.

We’re all great friends now as well as colleagues. We were there to help everyone in our community as well as each of our organizations. This work was not without stress. We struggled too at times. We always knew we could count on each other. Sometimes we offered advice. Sometimes we offered a joke or a reason to laugh. We lived the mantra we had pushed out across our community. One year later, we know that WE are Stronger Together. 

I learned recently that while our groups were collaborating in an extraordinary fashion, so were others. The leaders of a group of local impact sector organizations have been collaborating to create and implement a comprehensive effort to help those who are homeless in our community. The leaders of a group of arts organizations and local venues have been collaborating to create an extraordinary series of events we’ll all be able to enjoy later this year. This gives me hope.

As we recover and reopen, I hope we find joy not just in gathering again but also in collaborating like never before. Let’s do our best to not just meet together but to take action together. Let’s not just collaborate together but celebrate together. We’ve been living, working, learning, and doing alone for too long. I’ve witnessed the power of collaboration at what might have been our darkest hour as a nation and a world. 

Our small businesses are not out of the woods yet. Our civic institutions continue to be challenged. We have people living in poverty whether that is defined by the absence of income, food, a place to live, a job, health, personal safety or someone to care for them. We’ve got more work to do. There are more people who will need our help. To really help them, we will need to always be Stronger Together.

Published in Business
Thursday, 18 March 2021 14:50

A Bring Your Own Breakfast Event

On Wednesday, March 24, the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce is hosting what was once a hugely popular event - The State of Saratoga County Breakfast.

Of course, this breakfast will be unique in many ways. It’s the first time we’ve ever hosted one during a pandemic. So we’re taking extra precautions to make sure everyone is safe. You have to bring your own breakfast. You’ll have to make or buy your own coffee. You have to find your own seat. But it can be anywhere in the world. You’ll need a computer, laptop, tablet or phone to actually attend. You don’t need to dress up. You won’t need to bring any business cards. We won’t ask new members to stand up and introduce themselves.

This year’s event will be virtual. The good news is that this means anyone can attend. You’ll be on mute but we will take questions via chat. The event is generously sponsored by The Adirondack Trust Company. During the breakfast, virtual attendees will hear from the 2021 Chair of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, Town of Moreau Supervisor Todd Kusnierz, and the new Saratoga County Administrator, Steve Bulger.

Since taking over in January, the Chairman and the Administrator have made sure to focus the county’s efforts on stopping the spread of the virus. They appointed Supervisor Tara Gaston to lead the effort as Chair of the Board’s Health & Human Services Committee. This committee and every County department are working diligently to slow the spread of the virus and to help local residents to get vaccinated. We’re sure the breakfast will cover this topic extensively.

Chairman Kusnierz and his team have been hosting regular updates via Facebook live as the year has progressed. They’ve taken action to help local restaurants by supporting a cap on third party delivery fees. They’ve helped promote the work by the Saratoga County Industrial Development Authority and the Clifton Park Industrial Development Authority to provide tens of thousands of dollars in reimbursement grants to help local businesses and nonprofits pay for personal protective equipment expenses. They’ve supported efforts by the Saratoga Casino Hotel to expand their hours of operation which has helped them to attract more people to Saratoga.

The County is regularly sharing information on the vaccination program online and on social media. The Chamber has been keeping close track of this information. We’re publishing a weekly chart that updates everyone on the progress being made to vaccinate the county’s residents. This is vital if we are to reopen our local economy fully later this year. It’s vital if we want to be allowed to have a more normal summer with fans at all of our most popular venues. 

With the passage of a new stimulus law at the Federal level, there are now millions of dollars in assistance coming to Saratoga County. It’s likely that the County’s leaders will update attendees at this breakfast as to how this money will be allocated. As with everything else, there are likely strings attached to this funding and maybe some areas where our local officials will have some flexibility. We look forward to hearing about all of this and more.

These two leaders, of course, also have the regular and more traditional work of the county to lead. We’re blessed with having decades of great leadership in Saratoga County. Even during a pandemic, Saratoga County leaders maintained our lowest in the state property tax burden. They successfully managed to balance the county budget while providing all essential services plus so many unanticipated costs associated with the war against COVID 19. In many ways, this was what the focus was of this former annual event. Just because it is not at the top of the agenda this year doesn’t take away its importance. 

The breakfast will be held on Wednesday, March 24, from 8:45 a.m. to 10 a.m. To register, please visit www.saratoga.org. Click Chamber Events and follow the directions to register. There is a $10 fee to attend. While we look forward to the day when this event can be held in person again, our hope is that we’ll have a bigger and more diverse audience this year since the program is so accessible and the information so vital. Send any questions about the event to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Published in Business
Friday, 13 November 2020 15:25

Ways You Can Help Save Our Locals

Starting in late-March as our economy was shut down, the Chamber has teamed up in an unprecedented fashion with Discover Saratoga, the Saratoga Springs DBA, the City Center, and the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership to do everything we could to help our local businesses to survive the COVID 19 pandemic.

We’ve helped hundreds maybe thousands of local businesses across Saratoga County. We’ve served members and non-members seeking to help everyone in this crisis. We’ve been relentless in our communications keeping people informed and answering their questions. No one’s done more promotion of local businesses than we have collectively. We’ve been advocates at the Federal, State, County and local levels. We’ve helped promote local efforts and programs designed to help local people from hospitality workers, to essential workers, to health care workers, and first responders.

Darryl Leggieri, Deann Devitt, Ryan McMahon, Shelby Schneider and I have dozens if not hundreds of thank you notes, emails and texts from those we’ve helped. I can’t speak for them but I know that I have worked harder in these last 8 months than I have in my entire 25-year career in chamber work. The work we’ve done, however, has been humbling in that those in need really needed our help. Their businesses and their way of life was at risk. The safety of their employees and their customers was at risk. With every call we took, you could hear the anxiety, the fear and the determination thankfully.

We’ve said throughout this process that we’re Stronger Together. Now that winter is here and COVID 19 is likely to be around for some time, this will be even more important going forward. We’re already seeing businesses close or announce plans to shut down for the winter. Those who remain in business are likely to still be restricted as to the number of customers they can serve at any one time whether they are barber shops and salons, yoga or fitness studios, museums or restaurants, clothing stores or flower shops. These restrictions to keep people safe are limiting the ability for local businesses, in particular, to make money and to sustain their operations.

So our five organizations have now formally launched our SAVE OUR LOCALS campaign. This campaign is an invitation to everyone in our communities locally to help. Shop local. Dine out or do take out local and remember to tip big. Hire local contractors. Purchase every product or service you need at home or at your place of business locally. If you must shop online, try to do so locally too. Our local businesses are counting on you and me to spend whatever discretionary monies we have at local businesses. Help the local businesses you love before they are gone forever.

The importance and value of the SAVE OUR LOCALS campaign was made clear to me because of a call from Anita Daly, the Chair of the Saratoga County Capital Resources Corporation (CRC). The CRC wanted to support this campaign. She asked for details on what we would be doing and how they might help. I told her that we hoped to raise $10,000 to support this campaign. A few days later, she called to tell me that the Saratoga County Capital Resources Corporation voted to donate $10,000. They wanted us to be able to do everything we planned. They wanted to go big in the effort to support local independent businesses across Saratoga County. Besides this donation, the Ballston Spa Business and Professional Association and the Mechanicville-Stillwater Chamber of Commerce also signed up to partner with our five organizations. 

You can see how these funds are being used by going to www.saratoga.org and clicking the SAVE OUR LOCALS button. From this page, you can get a list and links to local stores and businesses offering online gift cards. You can see an updated list of local restaurants doing take-out. We have a web page with links to local nonprofits who need our support as well. Visit us on social media to see the hundreds of posts we’re doing every week to promote local businesses, their hours of operation, their products, their specials and their Holiday gift ideas. We have SAVE OUR LOCALS posters too. We’re producing videos as well with tips and suggestions on how to SAVE OUR LOCALS. We’ve set up a help line for business owners to call to get answers or to get help. Our volunteer SCORE business advisors are ready to help business owners to adapt and to pivot their business plans, marketing, or operations to survive.

Like the Capital Resources Corporation, we’re going BIG to SAVE OUR LOCALS. We’re all wearing masks to keep each other safe and healthy. We all need to support local businesses as well to keep our local economy healthy too.

Published in Business
Thursday, 15 October 2020 14:06

Chamber Launches Save Our Locals Campaign


’m sure those reading the headline and looking at the byline will assume that when the Chamber refers to saving LOCALS that we’re talking about local businesses.

And while that’s true, there is a bigger mission at hand. Because it also involves mobilizing our community to save our local nonprofit organizations. It means saving local neighbors who may be unemployed or in need. 

This intent was never clearer to me as we developed our SAVE OUR LOCALS campaign than a week ago when I attended an event for CAPTAIN Community Human Services. The event was to thank and honor Sue Catroppa, CAPTAIN’s current executive director, as she heads towards retirement at the end of 2020. The event was to recognize and thank Andy Gilpin, who has worked side-by-side with Sue for more than a decade at CAPTAIN and who will become the organization’s next executive director.

In advance of this event, I was honored to be asked to speak and to say a few words about Sue - - and Andy as it turned out. So as I thought about what I might say, I was reminded of something that Sue has said to me over and over again. Sue loves the work we do at the Saratoga County Chamber because we value, respect and promote the amazing work that all of our local nonprofits do to make our community a great place to live, work and play.

Take our SCORE program for instance. In 2018 and 2019, our local SCORE Chapter was one of the top five in the nation in terms of small business startups and jobs created with their help. Now with our SAVE OUR LOCALS effort, SCORE is adapting to provide totally free and completely confidential services to businesses AND nonprofits who need to adapt their business plan or model because of COVID 19. Both local businesses and local nonprofits are eligible to meet one-on-one virtually or in-person with one of our exceptional SCORE volunteers. All they have to do is call the Chamber to start the process.

To help businesses, our SAVE OUR LOCALS campaign will involve the Chamber and our partners promoting EVERY business ­­— whether you are a member or not — who offers gift cards for sale online. In the spring, we set up a similar promotion and had links to local retail stores, spas and beauty salons, restaurants, florists, fitness facilities, and more. 

Simultaneously, we will create a page on www.saratoga.org that promotes what our local nonprofits need. If our community responds and donates what local nonprofits need, this will indirectly mean that we’re helping everyone. 

Local businesses can learn a lot from the way our nonprofits are run and have been led during the pandemic. In my remarks at the CAPTAIN event, I shared a story from early April when our local economy was shut down, and I called Sue to learn more about COVID 19’s impact on our community and to see how the Chamber might help. 

Sue told me that demand for CAPTAIN’s food pantry and personal care items was up 50%. That day we spoke, she was trying to figure out how to help a young woman who was the victim of sex trafficking to find a place to stay with all of the stay-at-home restrictions in place. She said CAPTAIN also needed PPE for their employees to keep them safe.

Now CAPTAIN, like many nonprofits who work with vulnerable populations, was considered essential. So Sue also shared with me how they had established three separate teams of employees who were working shifts scheduled so they never crossed paths. She and her team had pivoted to this model to ensure their services could be sustained and people in need would always have access to what they needed. By doing this, the idea was that if one person contracted the virus that just one team would have to quarantine. That would leave the other two available to keep CAPTAIN open.

As businesses started to reopen, I shared what Sue did at CAPTAIN with many of the business owners who were asking me how to ensure they could stay open. The reality — as we’ve seen over and over again — is that it’s hard to eliminate the spread of COVID. The best we can do is minimize its spread. Sue had a model for operating a nonprofit and any business with this reality in mind.

So how can our community SAVE OUR LOCALS? Shop local. Dine out or take out local. Buy your supplies for your home or business at local stores. Hire local contractors and professional services. Think of making every purchase locally. If you must shop online, do so locally too. AND, donate your time, treasure and talent to local nonprofits. We’re all in this together. We will be Stronger Together. 

Published in Business

By the time you read this, it is likely that the numbers will have changed. But it’s also very likely if the trends hold that these changes will be minimal.

You see the reality is that relatively speaking COVID-19 has spread and impacted people living in Saratoga County far less than many other places around the world, the US, New York State and the region as well.

We all mourn the 17 Saratoga County residents who have lost their lives to COVID-19.

We also understand that some of the 769 people who had COVID-19 and recovered may have to deal with lingering health issues for some time or maybe the rest of their lives.

This virus is dangerous. It is impacting local families and our neighbors. Thus, we need to continue to do everything we can to stop the spread for as long as it takes the medical community to develop a vaccine.

This starts with wearing a mask. It means avoiding large crowds and continuing to social distance from other people. It means following travel restrictions, washing our hands, etc.

As of today, Monday, August 17, 2020, we’ve had 828 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Saratoga County. This means that just .0036 percent of the county’s 230,000 residents have tested positive. The 828 confirmed cases is just .014 percent of the 56,348 tests performed in Saratoga County.

The City of Saratoga Springs has had just 113 confirmed cases of COVID-19. That means just .004 percent of the City’s 28,000 residents has had the virus.

Best of all, 108 have already recovered and as of today there are just 4 active cases. 

Let’s remember that we’re in the third week of August now. Since early July, our hotels have seen an uptick in visitors, particularly during weekends. The Saratoga Race Course has been in operation for 24 days.

While we’ve seen a slight increase in positive tests, we have NOT seen a spike. The spread of this virus has been minimized by all of us doing our part and by local businesses reopening while putting the health of their employees and customers first. 

The minimal spread of this virus locally has also been managed thanks to the aggressive contact tracing performed from day one of the PAUSE by Saratoga County’s Health Department.

Just two of the Towns in Saratoga County have NOT had a single positive case - - Edinburg and Day. Several Villages have achieved zero cases as well, including: Galway, Victory and Stillwater.

But as we were advised recently in a Zoom session with Saratoga Hospital’s COVID-19 medical experts, we’re still practically looking to minimize the risk of spread versus eliminating the risk entirely.

We need to expect that there will be more positive cases. We will need to quarantine more people as more positive tests come up. We will need to continue to be diligent wearing masks and remaining socially distant.

We’re leading the way in Saratoga County as of today. 

As hard as this has been on our families and our economy, this is allowing us to reopen bowling alleys this week and fitness facilities next week. It’s positioning us to be able to safely reopen our schools next month. 

Hopefully soon if we can control the spread, we will also see our performing arts sector, the City Center, the Saratoga Casino, and local movie theaters reopen too.

Leading the way is not easy. It takes resolve. It takes focus.  It takes all of us doing our part. We’ve done that here in Saratoga County.

Let’s keep up the great work and continue to put health first so that we can recover sooner than most.

Published in Business

It’s Friday, June 19, 2020, and we’re about to hold the largest ribbon cutting celebration Saratoga County has ever seen.

It will take place today at 11 a.m. We really have no idea how many people will participate. We’ve invited everyone!

BUT, this ribbon cutting will feature the same ribbon being cut in more than 2 dozen locations across Saratoga County simultaneously. That’s what makes it the biggest.

Normally when we do a ribbon cutting, it is for one business in recognition of an investment they’ve made in our community. It can be for a new business or an expansion or a relocation or a significant milestone anniversary.

Today’s ribbon cutting at multiple locations simultaneously is designed to celebrate the reopening of Saratoga County’s economy.

The Chamber and our partners at the Saratoga County Reopening Advisory Board as well as Discover Saratoga, Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, the Saratoga Springs DBA, the Saratoga Springs City Center and SEDC will all be involved in one place or another.

We’ll be in downtown Saratoga Springs as well as the Villages of Ballston Spa, Schuylerville and Mechanicville. We’ll be in the Town of Day and Edinburg to the North and Waterford, Halfmoon and Clifton Park to the South. 

We’re now in Phase 3 of Saratoga County’s reopening. And while there are still some sectors that remain closed, we simply cannot wait two more weeks to share the news that Saratoga County is open for business for those who are wondering what is open and what is not.

The ribbon we are using features the Stronger Together Saratoga County logo created a month or so ago to celebrate the many collaborations we’ve seen that have helped us get to this point.

We’re also providing every City, Town, Village and Hamlet with two Stronger Together signs personalized for their local community to use in the ribbon cutting photos.

We’ve created a Saratoga County Ribbon Cutting event on Facebook. There, everyone will be able to see all of the ribbon cutting photos and videos our staff, partners and volunteers shoot capturing this historic day.

This ribbon cutting celebrates the investment of time we’ve all made during New York’s PAUSE as we sheltered at home to put health first while placing our economy in jeopardy. Today is the day where we hopefully can feel the freedom and safely start to return to the businesses we know and love more regularly. 

We believe every ribbon cutting is the celebration of a dream come true. For us here in Saratoga County as I write this, we dreamed of a day when there was no one in Saratoga Hospital fighting for their life versus COVID-19.

That day came a week ago, on Thursday, June 11. That was the day when we decided to break out the ribbon on June 19. That was the dream come true. Now we cannot let down our guard. 

As Angelo Calbone, the President of Saratoga Hospital told a group of local leaders the other day, we still must be vigilant. We need to social distance. When we can’t, we need to wear a mask. We need to wash our hands. We need to disinfect surfaces. We need to take special care of our seniors and those with underlying conditions.

But if we continue to do this, this countywide ribbon cutting today will go down in history as the day we turned the corner. 

The day we celebrated the sacrifices so many have made to get here as well as the potential of what we can do together going forward to rebuild our economy.

Published in Business
Thursday, 14 May 2020 13:50

How is the Chamber? Thanks for Asking!

Like most in the world today, I’m not sure the Saratoga County Chamber was ready for COVID 19. BUT in the face of this adversity, we’ve adapted. 

Our professional staff is working remotely from our homes in Clifton Park, Schuylerville, Wilton, and Saratoga Springs. We hold regular staff meetings via Zoom and we stay in touch constantly during the day via email, calls and text messages.

You can still call us at 518-584-3255. You can still email us. We’re still accessible and ready to help.

What we believe has made the Chamber so vital in this crisis is how we’ve connected our members with what’s really going on and what’s really important. We’ve been relentless in our communications sharing information, ideas, important news updates, and amazing stories of kindness.

Every day we’re sending out an email to just about everyone in our database. Since March 13, these emails have been opened more than 150,000 times.    

The work we’ve done has been helped immensely by the collaborations we started with SEDC, Discover Saratoga, the City Center, the DBA, and Prosperity Partnership on March 13. 

We’ve also joined forces with FLAG Saratoga as they lead an effort to purchase more than 2,000 meals from local restaurants for delivery to health care workers and first responders. 

We joined with six breweries who call themselves wearebrewnited.com as they raise money to support local hospitality workers. 

We are working with Death Wish Coffee as they sell t-shirts to support local businesses closed during this pandemic and their employees who are now unemployed.

We’ve been visible and vocal advocates. At first, we helped businesses get classified as essential so they could stay open. Later in this crisis, we helped local businesses who had important questions get answers about their PPP loans. 

We’re regularly in touch with elected and appointed leaders at the Federal, State, County and Local level. We are constantly sharing with them what they can do to help our economy to recover.

The response to our work has been unbelievable. We’ve lost track of how many people have thanked us for listening to them, advising them, helping them, advocating for them and giving them hope. 

I can safely say the Chamber is doing well. We’re making a difference. We’re helping to lead the economic recovery in Saratoga County. In fact, we helped write the plan.

So, if today your business or nonprofit organization is in a position to support us by joining or renewing your membership in full or in part, we’d be so appreciative. And if you are not, we understand and we’ll work with you as time goes on knowing that by helping you today that you’ll be able to help us tomorrow.

We know the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce helped make Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County one of the greatest places in the world to live, work and play. We’re going to keep adapting, communicating, and leading our community through the recovery. 

So how is the Chamber? We’re here to help. We’re ready to make a difference. We always will be.

Published in Families Today
Thursday, 16 April 2020 12:19

It’s Time to Talk About How we Recover!

I struggled to write this column more so than any before…maybe ever.

It just seems to me these days that ALL we read and hear about is COVID 19. There are some heroic stories. There are lots of tragic ones too. 

A few in the local media have asked me questions to produce stories meant to provoke fear and anxiety. They ask hypothetic questions where I’m asked to predict the future and to comment on it.  I’ve always said no thanks. I want to talk about facts and actions.

Turn on the television. Turn on the radio. It’s all COVID 19. Even the commercials are about new cleaning products or what this corporation is doing to help during this pandemic.

Check on social media and it’s almost entirely COVID 19 stories and a bunch of people posting photos from their high school yearbooks. 

So I’d really like to write about something else. 

I’ve been telling people that this is the week where the Chamber is transitioning. We’ve gone from near 24/7 triage as we tried to help our members and others in the community with the immediate impact of this attack to now developing a plan for our local recovery.

We may not know when exactly we’ll all start to transition to a new normal but the recovery will come.

Let’s talk about and write about what we’d like to see our communities do and be when we recover.

I love the fact that Saratoga’s theme is “Health. History. Horses.” I love that in Saratoga HEALTH has always come first here. But do we need to settle any longer for just three words to describe us. Could we add a fourth word – Arts! 

That’s something worth talking and writing about.

After living through this pandemic, I’d like to talk about and write about and listen to ideas about how we really make HEALTH number one.

If we do this, we WILL attract new people and new businesses to our City and Saratoga County.

I think we’re all going to pay way more attention to our personal and our economic health than we have in a long time.

Talent is going to go where it’s healthy to live. Where the talent goes so will the companies or maybe they’ll let us live here while working remotely. 

Many of us have learned to work remotely. Our children have learned to learn remotely too. So this could be a game changer for a generation. 

Let’s talk about and write about and figure out how we can locally source more of the things we really need. 

Let’s not run out of toilet paper again. Let’s not have to beg people for masks to protect our health care workers and essential workers. 

Let’s make sure our local farms survive so we have local food whenever we need it.

Things are going to change for sure. And we’re learning how to adapt.

So let’s write about and talk about our future. What can we do better? What should we do differently? What will make Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County an even better place to live, work and play?

Right now, I have more questions than answers. 

So send me your answers to these questions. Share with me your thoughts and ideas. I need some good ones as we start to plan our local recovery effort.

And I’m hoping you’d also like to write and read and talk more about our future and our recovery than what we’ve been seeing and hearing for the last four weeks.

Published in Business
Thursday, 09 April 2020 12:41

Look And You Will Find Resilience Everywhere

Resilience is defined as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity.

And in these last four weeks, I’ve seen so much resilience here in Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County as we face significant adversity from COVID 19. 

Seeing people and businesses adapt has helped me stay hopeful and optimistic. Here’s a few examples…

My wife purchased, picked up and has planted beautiful pansies in our backyard from Sunnyside Gardens without ever seeing anyone.

Racing City Brewing delivered a growler of beer to my front porch. They left me a kind note indicating that I was their first Take Out delivery.

Impressions of Saratoga is delivering Porch Packages with local products to brighten up your day.

Today is Day 25 of the Max Level Fitness daily workout program. Every day, they have shared a workout routine anyone can do from home.

Just one week ago on a conference call with local bankers, the SBA referred to the roll out of the Paycheck Protection program as building an airplane while it is flying. 

Yet the next day and all through the weekend, local bank employees did everything they could to get our local small businesses approved for these loans.

Wellspring expanded its efforts to support survivors of relationship and sexual abuse by offering an internet based chat hotline since they can’t meet in person and because incidences of domestic violence and sexual assault increase during times of uncertainty.

CAPTAIN Community Human Services established three completely separate employee teams to ensure redundancy should a staff member become sick at a time when the need for their services has doubled.

Employers who are still hiring moved almost entirely to using virtual interviews as they sought to provide local jobs to those now suddenly looking for one.

The Holiday Inn and Shelters of Saratoga created a temporary shelter in the hotel for those among us who are homeless.

Employees at Saratoga Hospital who are on the front-line of this fight vs COVID 19 have adapted and become heroes among us for their bravery, skill, and compassion. And in return, local volunteers teamed up with the Saratoga Hospital Foundation to raise money to purchase meals for these Hospital employees from local restaurants.

Local breweries crafted a new local brew called Negative Input with the proceeds from all sales being donated to help local hospitality workers who are
now unemployed.

The Children’s Museum at Saratoga hosted their 30th Anniversary Gala “To Go” and reported that it was a huge success.

In the face of adversity, these organizations and so many, many others in our local communities are adapting. 

We’re doing business differently. We’re raising money differently. We’re helping others differently. We’re finding opportunities where we can be in control. We’re collaborating. We’re then doing something good and positive.

It is these actions that prove we are resilient. That we can and will overcome this threat.

That’s why I remain hopeful and optimistic and you should too. 

Published in Families Today
Page 1 of 2