Ulster Strong is a relatively new local platform with a mission that deploys “Economic development strategies designed to diversify and strengthen Ulster County’s economy and quality of life by organizing support for investors and their partners in government from the business community to help advance impactful projects; Mobilizes the public to become active participants in project review processes; Educates the public about the community benefits of smart growth projects; Provides balance to public discourse on economic development issues and acts as a resource for investment and development prospects.”
Orchestrated by Dan Ahouse, the principal of Stockade Strategies, a consulting firm that organized some of the strategies for the controversial Kingstonian Project (once listed as “current” to now “former” client), he was quoted in a recent article written by the Rockland County Business Journal:
“What Ahouse noticed was that planning and zoning meetings were filled with opponents of the project but no one was speaking on behalf of the business community that favored it. The strategist noted that groups opposing development have become adept at organizing and spreading their message. “I was thinking about my experiences organizing political campaigns and my understanding of activists,” said Ahouse, adding that what became clear was the business community needed to employ similar grassroots tactics to have a voice when projects are navigating through the planning and zoning board stages.”
They have officers and board members and likely consultants – who are not identified – that handle their communications and social media. As a private entity, there isn’t any way to track who funds them and that might include developers with deep pockets who want to bring projects to Ulster County for profit, whether they are in our community’s best interests or not.
They are clever, working to emulate the work of groups like ours as a service to their corporate clients. But they haven’t anything in common with us – a volunteer, community-based organization committed to improving the quality of life of Kingston residents through accountability and transparency of their local government.
It is of course true that not all of their projects are bad. But political operators need watchdogs, so keep an eye on them. You can be sure we will, too.