NORTH CREEK It's still very difficult to find pools of optimism among business owners in the Southern Adirondacks, but there was a certain ebullience evident this week during the Adirondack Economic Development Conference held Tuesday, April 10 at the Tannery Pond Community Center.
The conference, during which regional not-for-profit and state development officers explained resources they have for small businesses, drew several dozen business people from the area.
"I came to see the community moving forward," said Joanne Smith, who helped manage Smith's Restaurant on Main Street in North Creek until it became Andie's Restaurant at Smith. No longer a businesswoman, Smith has 1,600 square feet of space beneath the restaurant she's looking to rent or lease.
Speaking about herself, her brother Francis and a few friends who've spent their whole lives in the area, she said, "We're giddy."
Passenger trains, the prospect of freight trains, the new Main Street businesses in the last few years all have her feeling like North Creek could be headed for a new peak.
The conference was familiar ground for Smith.
"My brother and I did a small-business course and got a small-business loan" years before through the Warren County Economic Development Corp., she said. The assistance had a measurable impact on the storied restaurant's success.
Presenters this week were representatives of:
•New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
•North Country Small-Business Development Center
•New York Business Development Corp.
•Empire State Development
•Adirondack Economic Development Corp.
•Warren County Economic Development Corp.
Each outlined assistance, program and funding options.
"I love the idea that some of these agencies offer one-on-one meetings with business people," said Brenda Valentine, who chairs the Main Street Revitalization subcommittee for the Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce.
A lot of entrepreneurs are reticent to talk about their business plans in front of potential competitors.
Even more striking for Valentine, was an offer made by Arnie Will, deputy director of Empire State Development's capitol-region office.
As a state agency, ESD often has connections with other agencies with which entrepreneurs have to deal. Will encouraged participants to call him directly if they need help getting or staying on another agency's radar.
"If I can, I will reach out to someone to make sure you haven't landed on the bottom of a pile," he said.
"They're very open and available," said Smith.
The conference was sponsored by the Gore Mountain Region Chamber of Commerce.