When it comes to good ideas there is certainly never a lack of them. The problem is always finding ways to funnel and collect this information so it can make an impact.
With that in mind, we decided to reach out to the citizens of Kingston to learn what it is that they think the city should pursue in the way of building a local economy.
I’d like to keep this going so to hear from more of you. If you’d like to participate, answer the question below and include your name, occupation and community affiliation (s). Send it to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Rebecca Martin
What kind of industry or small business venture would you like to see in the city of Kingston? What incentives could the city of Kingston offer to attract it, and what obstacles are currently in the way?
Executive Director, Queens Galley
“In 1987 the entire state was in a recession and Martin Marietta, the community’s major employer, had laid off several thousand employees. There were nearly a million square feet of vacant retail space and downtown vacancies were approaching thirty percent. Kicked off the project in 1989 with the idea that “economic gardening” was a better approach for Littleton (and perhaps for Kingston too!) than “economic hunting”. Simply grow our own jobs through entrepreneurial activity instead of recruiting them. They have developed a model that WORKS…and at least 14 other communities have used that model successfully. We can too.”
“A supermarket located right off 9W would draw drive-up as well as neighborhood business. Something less obvious but important would be a place to mail things combined with photocopying and such (The US Post Office is cutting back at the moment which is why I think it would have to be a Mailboxes Inc type thing). Restaurants alone will never be enough, not even for a seasonal/weekend economy. If we want small businesses to operate in the Rondout, we need to give them the basic resources to do so. This includes businesses in commercial spaces as well as cottage industries out of nearby homes. Cottage industries may not seem like much, but in an era when it’s hard to attract medium-to-large businesses, a patchwork of smaller businesses may be what sustains us. Rondout isn’t the only neighborhood in Kingston, but what’s good for Rondout is good for Kingston. And more resources downtown means less traffic jams along Broadway.”
Melissa Everett, Ph. D.
Excecutive Director, Sustainable Hudson Valley
“Kingston could distinguish itself by developing a green building materials and products cluster, with appropriate manufacturing and assembly as well as distribution, sales and marketing, installation and support. Green building is a vast, fast-moving industry. From structural materials to windows to paints to roofing to lighting to landscaping materials, the industry is developing new technologies with reduced carbon footprints, less toxic emissions, greater materials and water efficiency and use of recycled materials, and lower impacts on the surrounding site. LEED, the primary industry standard, also gives points for sourcing supplies within a 500 mile radius of a job site. As New York and the Hudson Valley strengthen their commitment to green building codes within the state’s energy and climate action plans, opportunities to supply the construction and renovation industries will grow. Kingston has a solid cluster of relevant businesses already, including lighting, appliance, electronics and masonry supply outlets, solar installers, and a flagship publication, New York House. It has a local commitment to the “green corridor” along Broadway, where bike racks will soon be installed on every block. It also has complementary clusters in arts and the digital/ creative economy. Green alternatives in building move into the marketplace when consumers find them not only practical but beautiful. The potential for marrying green building with artistic and creative applications from furniture and interior design to landscape architecture, could give Kingston an enormous advantage in developing a green building cluster.”
Realtor and Co-Founder, Kingston Digital Corridor
“Years ago, George Allen suggested an architectural collete, maybe part of SUNY, based in Kingston. We really do have a great inventory of American architecture, a little weak on the contemporary but that’s within easy reach”.
Entrepreneur, Selling and Renovating, slowly.
– Read Paul’s article “Tourism In Kingston” from 2008.
“Kingston needs to make residency a 6 month process to avoid new residents who can not support themselves without local taxpayer assistance for six months. Kingston needs to hire a lobbyist in albany to advocate and promote itself. Crime is a quality of life deal-breaker, a dis-incentive to investment and settlement, and will lead to a spiral that can not be turned around. The city police are a valuable resource led by a competent, responsible chief and one of the best investments that can be made in the short term with the limited funds available. contracts with other city employees must be re-negotiated however possible. those who contribute their time and enthusiasm towards the improvement of the city should be recognized and given jobs. where salary is not available, real power to make change is often a sufficient substitute. those who agree on 90% should not spend any of their time arguing about the other ten. in a crisis only clear basic changes can be made, energy should go to consensus. by law, the subject and time of all meetings must be made public and easily available well in advance (1 week or more). those who schedule unannounced public meetings should be fined substantially. the subject of public meetings must be determined a week in advance and not be changed within a week of the meeting. notices must be unavoidable so that even the busiest citizen is informed. that means all forms of media must be notified and all public meetings should be scheduled such that working people are able to attend. the object is to have the greatest number of attendees under strict parliamentary rules limiting speaking time and relevancy to the subject of the meeting.”
“We need to extend Technology jobs and consulting jobs into the Hudson Valley/Kingston area and get away from Retail/Medical industry. SUNY NP has a program and contest in the Business program on Business Plans (I’m currently working on one). They have great ideas”.
“We recently lost to the town of ulster a food packaging company. That, and others like solar manufacturing. I don’t know what the city did in the way of offering either business incentives to be in Kingston or why we might have lost. Some years ago, a random thing, a business man was telling me about his considerations for Midtown. He said, to my surprise, it was hard for people to find the place, hard to give directions. We need better signage in the city inside and out! The idea about a KIngston Corridor struck me about then, and I’ve been poking at it for some years, rather ineffectively. I brought the idea and some drawings to the city a long time ago, but there were no ears. That seems to be changing now. We have kingstoncitizens.org which is making a huge difference as there is someone observing and encouraging.
Some public celebration of new business: I know of none. This city does nothing, no welcome, no publicity, no thanks. I would think having the mayor or a city committee, meeting and greeting new business and getting that in the paper would help a lot to show we are friendly. What we see, surely, is that we are not. For instance, there is no guidance on the web site for new business out reach. One lady who recently bought a house from the city and has repaired and improved it gloriously had reached out to me to help her get through delays that threatened her ability to close the deal.
Realtor and City of Kingston Ward 1 Alderman
“A historic preservation program associated with the college, perhaps to offer some sort of degree at the end. Somewhere in the mix, the City of Kingston could work with targeted neighborhoods to restore the blocks of vintage Queen Anne architecture (like Downs or Elmendorf Sts for example) There is grant money for historic preservation in some places. Perhaps the program would draw young people looking to learn about historic preservation (which is a growing industry) to live in Kingston while studying. We need to recognize how important this is to the future of the historic neighborhoods of Kingston. This city has a gold mine of potential preservation projects.”
Barbara Sarah and Jennifer Schwartz-Berky
Barbara is founder of the Oncology Support Program at Benedictine Hospital and the director of Third Opinion. Jennifer is Deputy Director, Ulster County Planning Board and Visiting Lecturer in Environmental and Urban Studies at Bard College.
“Kingston should create “cultural districts,” which is something that over 100 cities across the US have done in the last decade. Many of these communities have successfully positioned the arts at the center of their revitalization strategies. A number of well-documented studies demonstrate a very high return on local governments’ investments in such a strategy. This “place-based” policy typically involves tax credits and other incentives for artists and arts-related businesses to support their work and the improvement of spaces within specific mixed-use areas of the city that are targeted for revitalization. According to a study by the Americans for the Arts, “Cultural districts boost urban revitalization in many ways: beautify and animate cities, provide employment, attract residents and tourists to the city, complement adjacent businesses, enhance property values, expand the tax base, attract well-educated employees, and contribute to creative, innovative environment.” The New York State Department of Labor reports that Ulster County has nearly twice the number of artists (1.9 times the average) of any place in the country, which is high even compared to our neighboring counties (which average 1.3 times the average). Kingston is the perfect candidate for a successful cultural districts strategy.”
Freelance Writer and Editor and Garden Committee Co-chair, Kingston Land Trust
“Bicycle (repairs and rentals) and Fishing Tackle shop in the Rondout. During the warmer months, bikes and fishing is the merchandising focus while snowshoes and snowboards are sold and rented during the winter. A recent Sea Grant Study revealed that the number one natured-based activity for tourists and residents of Kingston, Beacon and Cold Spring was bicycling. The number one water recreation activity was fishing. And the number one cultural activity was visiting the waterfront to dine and shop.
Urban Organic and Hyrdoponic Farming Industry. Take the old Kings’ Inn and convert it to a hyrdoponic farm, which sells vegetables year-round to the community. Can employ between 10 and 15 people, perhaps in a co-op profit sharing model. The roof can be modified with solar panels to help offset the energy costs.
Redevelopment Initiative of Existing Commercial and Industrial Space. Here, new businesses would be encouraged to participate in this program with tax abatements and other incentives. They would relocate into existing buildings in Kingston that are refurbished by Kingston-based contractors who hire local helpers who may have been under or unemployed. This helps local contractors as well as local people while making use of preexisting buildings (green) instead of building new, which is not green or sustainable. Tax breaks would be big enough to discourage new construction.
Incentives: City-awarded tax abatements and tax breaks — especially for small businesses or start ups.
Obstacles: A lack of creative thinking.”