PLATTSBURGH - The words upon the State University of New York seal are ones that the SUNY Plattsburgh Technical Assistance Center live by every day.
"If you look closely, they read 'To Learn. To Search. To Serve,'" said TAC executive director Howard Lowe. "That ties in directly with what we do. We do a lot of research and search for information that we make available to improve the community."
According to TAC's mission statement, the center is the economic development outreach arm of SUNY Plattsburgh which provides technical assistance to public and private sector organizations with the goal of enhancing economic development across Northern New York. Lowe prides the center not only on its day-to-day efforts to improve the community through its efforts, but in also aligning itself with SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher's "Power of SUNY" philosophy. Power of SUNY is the belief SUNY schools can serve as "the driving force behind New York State's economic revitalization and a better future for its citizens."
"When we read the Power of SUNY, we thought, 'Oh, we already do much of this,'" said Lowe.
The Power of SUNY is based on six principles: SUNY and the Entrepreneurial Century, SUNY and the Seamless Education Pipeline, SUNY and a Healthier New York, SUNY and an Energy Smart New York, SUNY and the Vibrant Community, and SUNY and the World.
Though TAC's strategic initiatives have already embodied the spirit of the Power of SUNY, there are key areas which stand out for the center, said assistant director Victoria Zinser Duley. One of which is creating healthier communities.
The center has worked with the Clinton, Essex and Franklin county health departments in varying capacities over the years, Duley explained, helping the departments establish healthy community initiatives.
"The projects we've undertaken with the Clinton County Health Department have been really exciting, ranging from research and data analysis for public health planning documents to assisting with long-term planning to create healthier communities through policy change," she said.
TAC continues to work with the Health Department to promote activities and projects hosted by the department on a regular basis.
"We will be working with the department on their "Healthy Schools New York" project, which is working to change school policies to promote healthier lifestyles for the kids," said Duley, adding that the center has been honored to work with the CCHD. "They're real leaders in the Northeast as far as planning long-term for a more physically-active community, with improved nutrition, and access to preventive primary health care."
Developing partnerships between the public and private sector to move the region forward has always been a goal of TAC, said Lowe, which demonstrates another way the center aligns with the Power of SUNY. Proof of that is in the grant that TAC is implementing to help improve wireless broadband network access throughout the region, particularly the Adirondack Park.
"We all want our computers in our pockets, and to be always connected, wherever we are, whenever we want," said Lowe. "And, yet, in the Adirondack region, that's very difficult."
Though restrictions are put in place to protect the natural beauty of the Adirondack Park, the restrictions also hinder technology becoming amply available in places like the High Peaks region.
The center, through the Research Foundation of SUNY, applied for and recently received a DEC Smart Growth grant to fund research to locate existing structures within the Adirondack Park that could be used to mount wireless antennas.
"The whole idea is that if we can create a database for the private companies to use, it will save them a lot of money and it will encourage them to expand their wireless service areas," said Lowe. "Over next six months, we're going to be identifying communities in the Adirondack Park that will work with us to help us find those structures that are already there, have electricity, have access."
The center is working with a private geographic information systems company for the project but also will enlist the services of at least one student from SUNY Plattsburgh's Department of Earth and Environmental Science.
"It will get them involved in some field work that will be terrific for their school work and their resume," said Lowe.
Through TAC, local tourism bureaus and municipalities like the city of Plattsburgh have also benefitted from countless hours of research, said Duley, further playing into the Power of SUNY's focus on creating vibrant communities.
The center has provided research and grant-writing for ongoing initiatives such as the Saranac River Multi-use Trail and collected and analyzed information useful for the North Country's tourism industry. TAC is now working with the City of Plattsburgh to help it attract businesses to locate there.
"One of the things we've done is look at comparable cities around New York State and around the country and see how they promote themselves to businesses. Some do an excellent job and have won awards for their promotion, but there are some that do a poor job," stated Lowe. "And, we don't want Plattsburgh to be one of them. We want Plattsburgh to be seen as really getting it, in terms of knowing what we have to offer businesses and making some noise about it so it's easy for prospective businesses to see what a good fit it would be for them to come here."
Given the state of the national and even local economy, said Duley, TAC's ability to provide information for local governments and other agencies can save them time and money.
"These types of community services, particularly when staffing levels are shorter than ever, become increasingly important," said Duley.
"We want to make this region a better place to live and work," said Lowe. "That's the Power of SUNY."
For more information about the SUNY Plattsburgh Technical Assistance Center, call 564-2214 or visit http://tac.plattsburgh.edu.