It’s a new year (hopefully a good one). But before getting into the issues (which we will do in our monthly blogs and regular emails over the course of the year), let’s review how the public and private sectors support the business community in Putnam County. County government focuses on attracting new business and broadening the tax base through the activities of the Economic Development Corporation, the Industrial Development Agency, the Department of Tourism and the Legislature’s Economic Development Committee. Private sector support is primarily for existing businesses and comes from the activities of the Putnam County Business Council (PCBC) and four local chambers of commerce (the Brewster, Carmel/Kent, Cold Spring and Greater Mahopac-Carmel chambers).

How do the activities of the PCBC differ from those of the local chambers? The PCBC advocates for and does not compete with the chambers. The PCBC supports local business by providing information and education to them in a variety of formats, while the chambers provide promotional activities and networking opportunities to their members. The PCBC has recently added a monthly podcast series to its offering of support for the local business community. Entitled the “Voice of Putnam County” and hosted by PCBC Board members Nick D’Andrea and me, the podcasts feature individuals who have enjoyed success in their various pursuits in Putnam County and wish to share their experiences and ideas in an informal setting and conversational style. Previous guests include businesswoman Stacey Tompkins (Tompkins Excavating), business coach and life force strategist Jennifer Maher (Grit-Assist) and commercial real estate expert Don Minichino (Keller Williams Realty Partners). We will be reaching out to the local chambers and elected officials to help us identify individuals who are leaders in certain activities and areas of the local economy that we can invite to be guests on future podcasts.

One of these local leaders is Jeff Mikkelson, a photographer and board member of the Cold Spring Chamber who chairs its Advocacy Committee (I have come to know Jeff well, serving with him as a member of the Cold Spring Chamber Board). Jeff is leading an effort to publish a description of the Chamber’s advocacy efforts on its website. Advocacy has become a core activity of the Cold Spring Chamber and to quote Jeff’s draft “our efforts focus on issues that matter not just to our members, but also to our fellow residents and the broader social, economic and ecological community, of which we are part. We champion values and policies that reflect these diverse interests, and we are dedicated to playing a constructive role in conversations of local and regional importance.” Thank you, Jeff, for your leadership in this initiative, which includes the pursuit of sharing county sales tax revenue with the local municipalities and the endorsement of the New York Health Act, which would guarantee comprehensive health care for every New Yorker. I am hopeful that Jeff’s leadership will inspire other chambers to focus on their advocacy efforts in the future and Nick and I look forward to having him as a guest on the “Voice”.

Nat Prentice

President, Putnam County Business Council