The Startup Mindset: Why a Downtown Business Association Creates the Right Model for Economic

The full story on the meeting is at the Mohawk Valley COmpass,Downtown businesses voice concerns, plan association.
I think this initiative by the downtown merchants illustrates a few key principles that I believe are important to jumpstarting the city as it’s my contention that this city, old as it is, needs to rethink of itself as a brand new startup to move forward:
1. Like a startup, the objective seems centered around solving a problem — how to support the viability and growth of downtown. As the article demonstrates, the problems are solvable assuming the stakeholders — the city, the merchants — commit to solving them. I see nothing that precludes addressing most of the issues raised. Let’s focus on solving problems versus constantly creating new problems or harping on problems no one really cares to solve.
2. In startup mode, you don’t have the luxury of kicking the can down the street — you need to make something work NOW. So it’s not good enough to wait, and wait, and wait, for public agencies or private agencies to do it for you. You have to figure it out yourself. What this initiative creates is pushback on the staid, do-nothing, fatalist attitude that so permeates the city. My hope is that efforts such as these intensify and multiply the pushback against the entrenched do-nothingness with its enmeshed wailing and gnashing on the state of the city.
3. In startup mode, you don’t have time or luxury of working with the wrong people or entities. You need to figure out who the right people are to make your startup succeed. Efforts such as these will quickly highlight who the right actors are and who the wrong actors are for economic development.
4. I expect membership in the association to be predominantly, if not exclusively, from private industry. I think it is about time that we hear the voice of entrepreneurs and business owners in the economic development of the city. It’s more than clear that the city needs fresh voices and new perspectives.
Let’s hope this mindset catches on downtown and elsewhere.

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27 Responses

  1. diane says:

    Quick Question…….where is the industry downtown ? Or am I missing something here ? They are all small businesses . ?

    • Rob Millan says:

      Perhaps that’s not what ‘industry’ Flippin’ refers to here. Try ‘sector.’ You’re missing more than a simple synonym though. Try ‘big picture.’
      Ron Barone has publicly said you were placed on the ballot after a few failed attempts just to be a ‘thorn in the mayor’s side.’ (Oct 2013). I think this point has been proven; the suffering endured along with the expense of a stagnant legislature with a completely misguided mindset has further proven to show just how vindictive you and Ron are.
      I don’t think you understand the definition of ‘impunity.’ Now you really, really need to step down. Immediately.

  2. flippinamsterdam says:

    Rob, yes, ‘sector’ is a better word.

  3. diane says:

    Rob Millan,
    I have always been a supporter of downtown and have been involved in various things down there since moving here. I do think it is a good idea to move forward with an association, or some other form of organization to get their issues addressed. I have been able to do several things to help them out. Only when I asked to have a common council committee to work with them, did the mayor interfer. She has had 7 years to address issues and has done nothing but offer spring fling, which requires 3 businesses to close since there is no easy access or parking for their clients. If that wasn’t enough, a pizza truck was put across from the pizza place, and businesses were required to pay a booth fee if they wanted to set up in front of their own building. Other times the entrances have had other booths in front of their businesses….prohibiting people from entering. Those are some of the issues and there are no 10 new businesses that the mayor has brought in.
    And our mindset is exactly where it needs to be, keeping an eye on the spending……
    Are you still advertising yourself as an attorney, in spite of the fact you are not licensed in the state of NY ??

    • Rob Millan says:

      WTF are you talking about? This isn’t about me; it’s about you. I am not licensed in New York or ANY state or jurisdiction for that matter, as the bar is NOT a requirement for all JD-holders who work in certain capacities as I do. I’ve told you this about 1439 times now and you continue to challenge me. I’ve never ‘advertised myself’ as such. But way to change the topic, Diane.

      • flippinamsterdam says:

        Rob & Diane,
        I think this is heading into personal attacks versus the topic at hand. I know with public officials like Diane and the mayor there is a grey area as they are public officials while other commentors are not. That said, let’s keep on the topic.
        I do not like to block comments or remove comments so for everyone reading this, please keep this focused on the subject at hand and not bring in things that have no bearing on the topic.
        To all readers, I know we’re heading into campaign season so things will get more heated. Nonetheless, let’s stay on point.

    • Diane, I have been involved with several of the Spring Flings, in terms of promoting the event, working the event and attending the event. You have not been to a single one, nor have you ever been involved with any of them, so how in the blazes would you know what has happened?
      Lemme guess: This is what you have been “told.” Once again, you are not dealing in facts, you are dealing in rumors and hearsay, which has been the hallmark of your entire time in office.
      No one is blocked from entering any of the businesses down there, and there is plenty of parking at the mall and a few of the lots near downtown during the event. If a shop closes that day, that’s their choice, but it’s not because they won’t get any business.
      You are spreading lies and false information, as usual. And you are bringing up a topic that has nothing to do with the original blog post. You need to stop this nonsense. Now.

      • diane says:

        Charlie Kraebel,
        I have chosen not to be involved in the spring flings……but since I frequent the businesses down there, I know what is going on. They talk to me and tell what their issues are. Maybe you need to talk to the business owners and find out for yourself. I am stating exactly what I have been told by the owners/operators. I am not spreading lies and misinformation, but what I was told by the owners.

      • OK Diane, since the majority of the businesses down there DO participate in the Spring Fling and actually enjoy events like that, it’s hard to believe ANYONE is talking to you.
        And sorry, you no longer have the luxury of simply “stating exactly what I have been told by the owners/operators.” Repeating a lie is as bad as telling one.
        It’s very telling that you, as the self-appointed representative of downtown (an illegal designation, by the way), and Rich Leggiero, the alderman who is actually supposed to be representing the area, weren’t at the meeting with the business owners. If you two were invited and didn’t show up, shame on both of you. If the business owners didn’t invite you to attend, it’s a sign that, despite your claims to the contrary, the business owners there don’t want anything to do with you, are sick of Rich not caring about anything in his ward beyond Florida Avenue and are taking matters into their own hands.

  4. wildthane says:

    These businesses have opened up in the past seven years downtown on the north and south shores as I had indicated: Beacon Insurance, Ronco Roofing, Nana’s Baker’s Dozen, Azul, Emmy Lou’s, Book Hound, Revenge, Sharp Shooters, Joya, Hair to There, L’Ultimo, South Side Food Company, Lucky Mini-Mart. Dolce’s owners retired and Engines of Creation moved up to a location on Market Street Hill.
    We’ve received $600K in Small Cities funding for the facade improvements made to the storefronts on Main Street and ESD funding for the AIDA property rehabilitation, a project I heavily lobbied for since taking office. I pushed the traffic repatterning project through and have been involved in beautification from the start, clearing out planters that were being used as trash recepticals, cutting down trees that were ill-advised for an urban area, buying flowers and banners (yes, Amsterdam Beautification paid for some too) and promoting the downtown in all of our waterfront revitalization efforts (relocating the train station, Riverwalk, Waterfront Heritage BOA, and the MVGO.) We’ve plans to rework parking in the area and to go for significant money in this next round of competitive funding for more projects.
    The first Spring Fling was put together by Deanna Palszak and my then-assistant Matt Agresta in cooperation with the school district. The second Fling and “Window’s on Main” was facilitated by Karin Hetrick, Neighborhood Associations, APD, AFD, my office and downtown businesses. The third Fling was facilitated by Donna Dickerson, Neighborhood Associations, APD, AFD, my office and downtown businesses. The fourth and fifth Flings were organized by Sherri Bardascini-Crouse, APD, AFD, downtown businesses, CEDD and the Recreation Department. Karin also coordinated two winter events and still decorates empty windows with fabulous flair! Sherri pulled together a mid-summer event last year and it looks promising that the Amsterdam Farmers’ Market she’s been coordinating will be a regular attraction on the street this summer.
    I’m very proud of the advancements this TEAM of people have made to bring this forgotten part of our city back to life. Are we done? No. Are we still working at it? YES!

  5. diane says:

    Facts, this thread was talking about Main St and the issues they have, and going for an association. I only pointed out what I was told by the owners.
    The Mayor pointed out things her administration accomplished that were drawn up by the master plan committee. Much has been accomplished.
    Spring Fling was started to help the downtown, but when it affects individual business operations to the point they are forced to close for the day and their concerns are purposely ignored then it is not a benefit for them. If the various owners form an association it will allow them to communicate among themselves. Allowing the businesses to come up with a date for Spring fling that is agreeable to all will allow all businesses to be open on the day chosen and not be forced to close for the convenience of one.
    As far as the parking and snow removal issues, they are there every year and ignored by the administration routinely.

    • flippinamsterdam says:

      This exchange is interesting and illustrative in one key aspect with Spring Fling like most other things in the City: if at least one person or entity objects to something, then that means that something should not be done.
      It is precisely this embrace of amplifying the negative that creates a lot of issues in the city. I will grant that Spring Fling or really any public event will almost certainly inconvenience or hinder someone else. For example, last year, the Elks Halloween parade caused me to be late for a meeting as I had to reroute my normal course and encounter traffic stops and traffic. Given my tremendous influence with my blog, I could have written a scathing indictment of the Elks parade based upon its disruption to my business and normal workday. I could then have amplified my resentment even more on the local airwaves. That is what I could have done.
      What I chose instead was to consider that events such as Spring Fling or the Elks parade or homecoming largely bring more positive than negative and while each will without a doubt create an issue for someone — indeed I could author a book on all the critiques of Spring Fling — that still it makes sense to support events such as these. In other words, what public event will ever get 100% support without at least some pushback— it is impossible.
      I guess my issue here is to just say , why always amplify the negative instead of trying to mitigate it? In other words, let’s try to minimize the issues for the business in question but not let that dissuade us from efforts such a Spring Fling which garner much more support than resistance? The answer I’m afraid is that Spring Fling, unlike the Elks or homecoming, represents a positive accomplishment of something perceived as close to the mayor even though it is more than clear that many other people and groups have been instrumental in making it happen. The sad thing is that in disparaging the mayor, many other people and groups , guilty of nothing more than trying to bring some life and energy to the city, get disparaged as well.
      It’s more than clear that the culture of do-nothingness and negativism quite prevalent here is really at play here coupled with the political attacks on the mayor.
      Let’s find a way to solve problems instead of amplifying them with no desire or willingness to work toward solutions.

      • One of the things I found upsetting was that the director of the PWHF doesn’t feel welcome. Whether it’s real or imagined, there’s still something out there that makes him feel that way.
        I always thought that museum, especially to fans of professional wrestling, is a great thing to have downtown. It would be nice if they could find a way to be open more.
        The downtown area has a nice little vibe there that makes it different from what other cities offer, a point I think is often missed. Taking ideas from cities with successful downtowns is a good plan, but I’ve never liked the “Why can’t we be like [insert city here]” mantra. Nothing wrong with trying some of the things that have made cities like Schenectady and now Troy turn their downtowns around, but what could set Amsterdam apart is offering things those cities don’t have.

      • diane says:

        And in my last comment, I stated that I hoped an association of all the businesses can do just that. The timing of this event is for one entity and everyone else is stuck. So by the businesses all working together as a unit, maybe they can solve this issue on their own. Right now, this event is controlled by the mayor and not by the businesses that are downtown. I have stated what some of the issues are, it is up to the group to move forward and address them. And only a few of the businesses were represented, and not all were invited.
        As for Rich and myself not being there, this was called on Tuesday night. Rich already had plans for the day. I was told by Ms. Magiletti that if I showed up I would be arrested. It was a private invitation only meeting and since it was in her building, I would be trespassing. I am the only alder person that has ever shown any interest in downtown. but Mrs. Magiletti being a personal friend of the mayor’s is more important. This is where the petty stuff comes from, and it originated with the mayor while she and Mrs. Magiletti coordinated the meeting before the end of our council meeting, which is when it was announced.

      • Diane, then maybe you should take it as a sign that the downtown business owners aren’t interested in your version of representation.

    • karin says:

      No one was forced to be closed. They were encouraged to be open. They chose not to participate.

  6. karin says:

    Diane, during my Spring Fling, I begged Riverside to be a part of it – and they were. I also suggested for them to put out an A Frame sign to draw people into their place and/or put a few tables and chairs in front of their place – they refused. The “other” pizza vendor was located down on the corner of Church and Main – way at the the other side of the event. It was up to Riverside to bring attention to their place – they did not and the spot in front of their place was left empty for their business only. As far as The New Paris, I suggested a sidewalk sale. They refused. Those are facts. Every other business was thrilled about having the event and participated.

    • If memory serves me correctly, didn’t Riverside wind up selling individual slices? So, basically, there was one business that chose not to do anything. Hardly an outcry from the downtown business community.
      Actually, events like Spring Fling would be a perfect undertaking for a downtown business association … it takes the politics completely out of it.

      • diane says:

        The pizza place has been closed for the last three spring flings Karin, and it was because a pizza truck was placed just outside of his business. This is also a prom weekend again, that will affect the hair salon and Paris Shop. There are numerous businesses downtown and not everything revolves around one business. The Wrestling Hall of Fame is rarely open, but schedules an event for their convenience. How about they work with the other businesses and not against them in the scheduling of their one event ? Would that be difficult ? That is why I think it is important that all these entities do form an association that will represent them and their wishes, not the mayor’s or the PWHF. They must work together to find a date that can accommodate all of the entities. Why should the salon have to close for prom or do house calls to get the girls hair done ? They should not have to. And the Paris shop has fittings scheduled on Saturdays, her busiest day of the week in the season of proms and weddings. Who wants to drag their gown 4 blocks, or better yet, why should the owner have to carry a heavy gown for delivery because the mayor told the cops to tow her car if she would not move it ?
        Everybody can sit here and say this is not true. But it all is. And until the association gets up and running and they decide as a group when they want to have the spring fling, I think it is time for the mayor and organizers to sit back and let them, the business owners decide for themselves what they want………..not what you want……….what they want. You are negatively impacting their businesses. What gives you the right to do that ??
        And I was in the salon today, and they were not invited to the meeting last Saturday, how many others were not ?
        Flippin I do not need to lie, and I am not lying about these facts. I have been very straight forward in telling it like it is. You don’t like it, sorry, that is the way it is. Elected officials have lives and families that at times need to take precedence over some meeting scheduled on a Sat afternoon. Most of us spend a lot of time doing our jobs, but weekends should be for family………

      • Sorry, Diane, but I prefer to believe the words of people who have actually worked on downtown improvement efforts and have actually attended events like Spring Fling and the holiday mixers. You have ZERO credibility.
        For someone who claims to be the “only” alderperson who has ever cared about downtown (another falsehood), you sure spend a lot of time spreading nasty rumors and outright lies about things designed to make downtown better.
        And, as usual, you’ve taken this thread down the rabbit trail because you continue to force people to respond to your nonsense since you happen to be an elected official. Go back to being a gadfly so people can go back to ignoring you.

  7. Tim Becker says:

    “Mrs. Mageletti being a personal friend of the mayor’s” – have any proof of that or is that just another unfounded accusation of collusion? I sat down with the Magaletti’s for a good hour. They are really nice folks. The impression they gave me was that they are pretty solid Republicans, and not personal friends with her at all. But they gave me quite an earful as to why they wouldn’t want you on their property. So are you branding them “friend of the mayor” just because they don’t align themselves with you? If anything, you are *driving* people into the mayor’s camp by serially offending one group of people after another. So keep it up 🙂

  8. Bill says:

    Diane…if the downtown businesses need someone to hand out peanuts, point out the exits and show them how to fasten their seatbelts I’m sure they’ll ask for your input on the Spring Fling…

    • diane says:

      You know you can belittle my former occupation all you want……..but because of that occupation I had the opportunity to travel our country and to see the world and other countries and historic cities and see how they do things…….how they decorate, use flowers, maintain their properties, use landscaping and trees in a downtown area, including the type of trees. And trash cans and anything and everything to make a community more attractive. It is because of that extended travel which was really an education, that I feel able to offer my knowledge on how to make things better, not just downtown but in my ward.

  9. Donna Dickerson says:

    I have a Flyer that reads Mayor Ann Thane’s FIRST Annual Spring Fling 2011 so why does it say First ??
    also have one the say’s Mayor Ann Thane’s Second Annual Spring Fling 2012 I was told Karen and I did the first the second I did and Sherrie helped so how can this be the sixth’s ??

  10. sherri crouse says:

    Diane you have never been involved in spring fling you have never attended either your only involvement has been ill attend towards the event…this is one of the key reasons the association is being formed …to keep you away…you never see facts and only report fictitious stuff that no one seems to realize where you get it from….its been along two years but thank god its almost over!

  11. sherri crouse says:

    Gee you know what’s funny Riverside is participating in spring fling this year…and nobody is forcing anyone to shut down…why would you… thousands of people are walking all over down there…as a business seems foolish for them to not particle…..

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