From your perspective, why are Creative Economy components (artisan restaurants, arts and cultural institutions, performance space, etc) so important to a vibrant city scape?
Over the last decade, even during the height of the pandemic, we experienced people moving to the region. As the pandemic has shown us, the Creative Economy is a powerful, sustaining force — especially in a city like Glens Falls. For instance, it’s a long proud fact that Glens Falls is the smallest city in the country with its own paid symphony orchestra. New resident to our city are here working in arts, business, restaurants, music, medicine, banking, and other fields that supported and increased the diversity and talent of Glens Falls.
The Creative Economy shows up throughout — our new Glens Falls Arts District, the popularity of the library, the new murals being planned for three city properties, the new restaurants and the longtime venues. That attention — and that energy — feeds the economy in a way that is measured more by feeling than by economic development — our economy is thriving.
What is your philosophy and approach to building on those market segments?
The City is building a $4 million events space as part of the New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) — a critical piece of our continued growth. It will help to support already successful creative economy events like the LARAC Festival and other large entertainment opportunities. In fact, our vision is to be able to use the space to extend these activities throughout downtown locations — tying in many newly renovated gems to host festivals and large scale community wide events.
Our economic development and community development teams have grants and loans to support great ideas that become popular businesses, galleries or restaurants, like the Park Theater. And let’s not forget the innovative Shirt Factory on Lawrence Street — a haven for artists of all stripes. I believe that if we can continue to build the capacity for creative folks to live, work and play in the city (Including increased broadband access) our creative economy will continue to grow. And our city will continue to be a magnet for these magnificent people.
How much money from the DRI funding is being dedicated to creative / community building components?
The entire DRI project will inject $10 million into the South Street / Elm Street area — but that is just the state money. The new commercial use and housing projects, as well as the renovation of the three existing historic buildings, will invest more than $26 million cumulatively.
How does that benefit the creative economy? The overall project includes the Market Center, as noted above, which will host our weekly Farmer’s Market, music festivals and other outdoor events. The Center is tied to a planned community Commercial Kitchen for food demonstrations and exhibitions. The two other historic buildings will have restaurant / commercial space on the ground floors, and for the first time in decades will have living quarters above.
Add in more than 80 new apartments, all the commercial / studio space and the concentration of arts, music, food and people … and we definitely expect that it will support the growth of our creative economy. In fact, the creative economy interests will be an important beneficiary of the entire project. Glens Falls will become a hub and attraction point for the lower Adirondacks because of it.
For more check out: Glens Falls: A Winning Team Sharing Secrets to Success