TICONDEROGA - Alex Levitch has high hopes for Ticonderoga. So does the town board.
As a result, the community now has a local development corporation.
"This is something we've studied for a while," Supervisor Deb Malaney said. "As we moved forward it became more and more clear that the LDC is the way to go."
The Ticonderoga Local Development Corporation was formally created at the April 8 town board meeting.
A LDC is an independent, self-sustained, legal entity charged with economic revitalization. Governed by a board of directors, who will be appointed by the town board, the LDC will seek to match entrepreneurs and investors.
"The bottom line is economic development, job creation and encouraging business to come to Ticonderoga," Malaney said.
"We have years and years of studies, demographics and strategic plans," she added. "We know who we are, what our strengths and weaknesses are. Now we need investment money."
Levitch, owner of Adirondack Camp in Putnam and a member of the Ti economic development committee, suggested the LDC.
A former venture capitalist, Levitch believes the local economy is stagnant.
"We trade with each other in a closed-loop system through dollar stores and pizza parlors for ever thinner slices of the same already-lean economic pie," he told town trustees. "And in doing so we accelerate, potentially, a death spiral of one more American town as we force our educated young to leave early, while trapping our elderly to live here, many in or near poverty."
Levitch said tax breaks to low-wage employers does little to help the local economy. Ti needs good-paying jobs, he said.
"Unfortunately, however, the town lacks the experience, dedicated personnel, board consensus representation, necessary operational and legal framework, and practical insulation from the political winds to get the job done," Levitch said.
The LDC's first step is to raise money to support itself. Absolutely no tax dollars will go to the LDC, Malaney stressed. She added some money has already been committed to the LDC.
With money in hand, the LDC board will hire a director and staff to attract business.
Levitch believes Ticonderoga can support new housing programs, industry, shopping centers and multiple-use buildings housing recreation, arts, commercial and residential activities.
"Ti can, once again, we firmly believe, see a year-round infusion of new ideas, people and capital through a role it has yet to play as a tourist destination spot of significance, as well as becoming a nicer, middle class place to live and to work with rising rather than declining incomes and real estate values," Levitch said. Malaney said the LDC will work along with existing agencies and programs, such as the Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce, PRIDE and the Ticonderoga Montcalm Street Partnership.
"This is an opportunity to bring all our economic development efforts under one umbrella with professional leadership," Malaney said. "There's no risk to the town. It's certainly worth a try."