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Chamber alliance unveils economic initiatives, pushes bed tax

Officials from the Malone, Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake area chambers of commerce convened in Franklin County yesterday to unveil a series of initiatives aimed at bolstering the regional economy.

The meeting brought together representatives from local government, the Franklin County Board of Legislators, and even an aide from Congressman Bill Owens' office.

Hugh Hill is president of the Malone Chamber of Commerce. He says the economic downturn has forced local chambers to get creative in order to promote their member businesses.

That, Hill says, means working together toward a common goal.

"Together, our organizations represent nearly one thousand members - it's the largest business organization in the county," he said. "We've grown to understand that it's our duty, our obligation, and our pleasure to work for common goals by forming this and other regional partnerships, increasing our effectiveness and our reach."

Hill explains that the benefits of building regional partnerships led directly to the creation of the Franklin County Chamber Alliance.

According to Sylvie Nelson, executive director of the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, the notion that there's strength in numbers rings true with this new coalition.

She says pooling resources and supporting neighboring chambers of commerce offers great advantages when it comes to stimulating the North Country economy.

"When we speak as one voice, it's loud," Nelson said. "When we speak as two voices, it's louder. When we speak with all three voices - that sends the message."

Nelson told a crowd of more than 30 people that the Franklin County Chamber Alliance will support a variety of economic initiatives in each community - that includes infrastructure rehabilitation in Tupper Lake, incubator projects for agriculture and artisan products in Malone, and even a convention center in Saranac Lake.

Generally speaking, Nelson says the focus will be on bringing dollars into Franklin County through investments in public works projects and tourism.

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