The Saranac Lake Village Board of Trustees unveiled the new "Saranac Lake, Inc." initiative earlier this week.
The "I-N-C" in "Inc." stands for "Innovative New Commerce." Through this new program, trustees hope to promote businesses within the village.
Additionally, the proposal aims to develop a marketing package to draw attention from potential retail developers.
Mayor Clyde Rabideau says the initiative will be at least a one-year project. He adds that the village will be quite aggressive in promoting its businesses.
"We have to recognize, as we lay out these initiatives, that Saranac Lake is home to not just 5,400 residents, but over 280 businesses," he said. "And we are the commercial and institutional center of the Adirondacks."
The draft version of the plan aims to build a support network and showcase existing businesses, while also looking to attract new, job-creating businesses to the village.
Rabideau says work is under way on an online directory that will be free for any business physically located within village limits. Officials have reserved a web domain called www.saranaclakeinc.com - which may eventually become the home of the village's website.
As part of the initiative, Rabideau says officials are developing a retail marketing package.
"We've learned a little bit, through recent contacts with developers and retail chains, about what demographics and what property data these organizations need for them to really assess our area for retail expansion," he said. "This isn't going to happen tomorrow, we're hoping within the next year, but we've learned a lot and we'd like to take advantage of the information that we've garnered, to put together more of a marketing package to present to these developers and retail chains."
Community Development Director Jeremy Evans says a marketing package let's potential developers know that their retail business is a good fit for the community.
Evans says Saranac Lake can get overlooked by retailers due to its small size. That's why reaching out to certain franchises is a good idea, Evans says, adding that sometimes if you tell them a community is a good fit, they listen.
Rabideau says retail developers also look for communities with "shovel-ready" sites. He says that presents a challenge to the village due to the small size and relative unavailability of shovel-ready parcels.
"For instance, take the so-called sand pit behind Aldi's and McDonalds," Rabideau said. "It's far from shovel-ready, even though it may present acreage, it does not yet fit the definition of shovel-ready for retail development."
Rabideau says village officials will begin looking at properties and determine how to make them more presentable to retail developers.
The initiative would also establish an online database of all available commercial properties located in the village. Rabideau says developers and property owners will be able to access the database in order to advertise commercial property currently on the market.
Saranac Lake, Inc. establishes a small business loan program for entrepreneurs that are looking to add new jobs.
The plan also allows for the creation of business kiosks throughout the village and includes downtown walkabouts - video tours that feature various local businesses.
Trustee Allie Pelletieri asked how the Saranac Lake, Inc. initiative would fit with what the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce currently does.
Jeremy Evans says the chamber will be a partner, but the village proposal also helps businesses that don't belong to the chamber.
"We want to partner with them, but we want to focus on village businesses, whereas their members have a broader reach," he said. "In the chamber's position, you have to pay to be a member. And although they promote business village-wide, they're limited on what they can do for individual businesses if they're not a chamber member."
Evans says the village initiatives specifically target village needs at little to no cost.