Schenectady County

DSIC focus: Attracting businesses

The downtown improvement corporation will focus on business recruitment and retention next year, ful

The downtown improvement corporation will focus on business recruitment and retention next year, fulfilling a request that business owners have made for years.

The new focus is a major goal in the DSIC budget, which was submitted to the City Council on Monday.

The council approves the DSIC budget each year after a public hearing, which will be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 28 in City Hall.

The DSIC plan calls for a detailed study of what businesses are needed downtown. Staff may also receive special training in recruitment. Council members were somewhat critical of the plan, saying that DSIC staff should just get started rather than studying.

“You’re over-thinking this,” Councilwoman Barbara Blanchard said, insisting that “anyone” could clearly see what basic services and supplies were not yet offered downtown.

She said DSIC doesn’t need to consult experts, as the board of directors plans to do.

“It’s beer, bread and books,” she said, using a phrase that means bars, restaurants and retail stores.

Councilman Carl Erikson asked why they hadn’t started recruiting yet.

“Shouldn’t you have been doing that already, this year?” he said.

DSIC Executive Director Jim Salengo explained that DSIC will have more time for recruitment next year because Metroplex Development Authority will take over much of the administration of the Metroplex facade grants.

“We’re able to slide more of the staff’s focus,” he said.

But he acknowledged it is a task that business owners have wanted for years. “It’s something that’s been on our radar screen, on our priority list, for several years.”

He doesn’t have a recruitment plan yet, but he said he will present a “comprehensive strategy” by the end of the year.

Until now, DSIC’s main focus has been on aesthetics. It managed the facade grant program, in which businesses could get matching grants from Metroplex. DSIC also decorates the downtown, plants flowers, employs street sweepers and keeps the curb cuts shoveled in winter, among various other efforts to make the downtown inviting.

In other business Monday, the City Council agreed in committee to ban skateboarding along the new sidewalks on upper Union Street. The council will formally vote next Monday.

Groups of skateboarders have practiced tricks on the new concrete, as well as on business steps and facades. Property owners said they’ve seen some damage already, and asked the council to give police the authority to confiscate skateboarders and ticket teenagers who defy requests to stop.

Upper Union Business Improvement District Chairman Chris DiCocco said he hopes the law would prove so threatening that youth will simply stop jumping and flipping on the street.

“It gives the police a little bit of sting to move the kids along,” he said.

Categories: Business

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