The Lake Placid Business Association may not grab a lot of headlines, but that doesn't mean it's inactive and irrelevant. Far from it. This group of business people consistently works behind the scenes to collectively address economic issues facing the most celebrated resort town in the Adirondack Park.
Readers may not even know that the LPBA - not the visitors' bureau - organizes the annual Holiday Village Stroll, a successful three-day event created six years ago to attract visitors to the Olympic village during the holiday shopping season. It took a lot of money and volunteer hours to host the Village Stroll, and we are grateful the LPBA, its Village Stroll committee and committee chair Maryjane Lawrence for another successful event this past weekend.
Was it the perfect weekend for this event? No. Those families visiting for the Can/Am Hockey tournament filled a lot of hotel rooms that could have been filled by Village Stroll visitors. Plus, there were major events and holiday concerts being held in neighboring communities, such as Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake. Local church groups also held Christmas events, drawing residents away from Village Stroll activities.
Was it a success? Yes. Ask visitors who attended the Village Stroll, and they'll tell you they had a great time. For those who did participate, it was a resounding success, according to LPBA officials.
Live and learn. The LPBA will be holding the Holiday Village Stroll on Dec. 12-13 in 2014, trying to avoid any potential scheduling conflicts with other events.
One observation that came out of the LPBA's Dec. 10 meeting was the need for more active members to help with events such as the Village Stroll. There is a core group of active members, such as LPBA President Lori Fitzgerald, who are on multiple committees, but more volunteers would be helpful. As LPBA Secretary Wayne Johnston said, "Many hands make light work." We agree, and we encourage more businesses to become LPBA members to help draw more business to Lake Placid.
This village has long had a deep divide between its business districts. For many years, we've heard "Main Street, Main Street, Main Street," even though there are plenty of businesses in other sections of town, including Saranac Avenue and Sentinel Road/Cascade Road. That's the reason you see a sign at the High Peaks Resort directing motorists up the hill toward St. Agnes Church to the business district on Saranac Avenue. LPBA members on Dec. 10 agreed that it's time to stop plugging "Main Street" all the time and start plugging a unified "Lake Placid."
Lake Placid will survive without a business association, but it won't thrive. We've seen the LPBA in action, and we like what we see. Meeting in the Beach House from 8 to 9 a.m. the second Tuesday a month, members sit around a board table to talk about initiatives, challenges, issues and events - all designed to create a better business climate for its members. Its actions ultimately improve the community as a whole.
We've seen this kind of cooperation work wonders in other Adirondack towns, such as North Creek, another place where the state Olympic Regional Development Authority has roots. The North Creek Business Alliance was formed several years ago with a mission similar to the LPBA's, only North Creek is a more depressed region of the Adirondack Park. Even with the Gore Mountain ski center, the business climate in North Creek is bleak, compared to Lake Placid.
But those in the Crick never give up on a good idea, and one of the best ideas they've had was to form the North Creek Business Alliance. While the LPBA charges a reasonable $40 annual membership fee, there are no dues for the North Creek group. Simply show up for the weekly meeting - from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. every Thursday at barVino on Main Street - and you can have your say. In both groups, anyone can contribute to the conversation and the cause by adding comments, making announcements and giving input - both positive and negative.
We liked seeing Village Clerk Ellen Clark and village Trustee Peter Holderied at the LPBA meeting this past week, but we'd encourage the board to extend invitations to even more community leaders.
In North Creek, for example, the Business Alliance meetings are usually attended by staff and elected representatives from the town of Johnsburg, including Supervisor Ron Vanselow and Town Board members; Warren County, including Department of Planning and Community Development Director Wayne LaMothe; and the state of New York, including Adirondack Park Agency Commissioner Bill Thomas and Gore Mountain Marketing Manager Emily Stanton. In addition, people are invited from other business groups, such as the Adirondack Economic Development Corporation and the Tri-Lakes Business Alliance (Brant Lake, Loon Lake and Friends Lake) based in Chestertown. Having multiple layers of government and business organizations involved in the conversation adds context to the vast array of economic issues, creates more opportunities for partnerships and expedites the communication process.
In North Creek, this grassroots business group has been able to create events, raise money through fundraisers and grant programs, and get results. The Alliance pools its resources to market the town and provide services for its visitors.
For example, they hired Brant Lake Taxi for four years to provide a ski shuttle between Gore Mountain and Main Street. with stops to the Ski Bowl slopes and local motels. Now, town and county Occupancy Tax grants have given them enough money to purchase two second-hand 14-passenger buses to provide a tourist shuttle for the ski season and other high-visitation periods. In Lake Placid, the state gives Essex County money to provide a ski shuttle to Whiteface Mountain; the LPBA doesn't have worry about that amenity. In North Creek, nobody handed them a shuttle; they worked together to buy their own.
We're encouraged to see the North Creek and Lake Placid business groups' drive and passion to improve the economic conditions of their communities, and we know their results don't come easy.
Many hands make light work. If you're not a member, consider joining the LPBA. Our success in the business community can only be achieved through a coordinated effort.