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Local group is putting ideas into action

The Tiki Torch Zumbathon, an event that raised money to build a handicap-accessible treehouse along the Saranac River Trail, drew more than 100 people to the City Beach June 29.

The Tiki Torch Zumbathon, an event that raised money to build a handicap-accessible treehouse along the Saranac River Trail, drew more than 100 people to the City Beach June 29. Photo by Shaun Kittle.

PLATTSBURGH — Once upon a time, there was a sleepy mountain town in Colorado called Boulder.  

One day, the townspeople decided it was time to put their community on the map.

So they took action, redefined Boulder as a magnet for culture, arts and recreation, and stoked their city’s economic engine.

“Plattsburgh is no Boulder, Colorado, but Boulder wasn’t always like that, either,” said Colin Read, an economist and interim chair of the economics and finance faculty at Plattsburgh State.

Read included Boulder in a list of cities throughout the country that have made major changes, changes that have nurtured economic growth. Among them were Austin, Texas; Eugene, Oregon and Burlington, Vermont.

“Each of those communities has created an identity for themselves, and we should look to them for inspiration,” Read said.

Change usually requires a catalyst, and for Read it was an economic study he conducted in 2008 on the future of Plattsburgh.

The results showed that young and middle-aged people are leaving the area at a steady rate.

By 2030 there will be a shortage of almost 4,000 employees and 10,000 residents in the county, adding to the loss of 5,000 residents in the past 20 years, the study showed.

But there is a solution — staunch the flow of departure by keeping or attracting at least 3,000 families to the area by 2040.

“I’m an economist, so I worry about this sort of thing,” Read said. “If we know this, we can’t afford not to act on it.”

And that’s exactly what Read did, but he wasn’t alone.

When Read began holding meetings under the moniker Vision 2040 to discuss options for revitalizing the community, he was unaware that others were also meeting informally for the same purpose.

In 2009, the two groups began collaborating under one banner—Vision 2 Action.

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