Tapping the old economy in new ways: the Innovation Challenge in Greater Old Forge

Guest blog by Jeffrey Grimshaw, Executive Director of View Arts Center
 

Like many places in the Adirondack Park, we rely on tradition as a component of our economic development engine. Also, in many places there have been entrepreneurs who have a need, find neighbors and others that have a similar need and then share their skills, product or expertise to help others.

In today’s economy we call those people Makers and where they do their thing — Makerspaces. This has been going on for a very long time, but what if we found a different set of eyes to look at what we do and how they do it?  

In the greater Old Forge Area, we started with exploring the Makerspace concept. We found that people wanted to learn more. This conversation interested SUNY Poly in Utica and a project called Innovation Challenge New York (ICNY) — the brainchild of Dr. Robert Edgell, Interim Dean of the College of Business Management.

The concept of ICNY is that students from around the region converge on a community over a two-day span, explore, investigate and then generate ideas based on a “Challenge Statement” developed by a community committee. The students hear from experts in areas identified in the statement and read literature provided prior to their arrival in the community.  

Photo: Winners of the 5th Grade “Trout Tank” Business Plan Competition sponsored by the Town of Webb School and View Arts Center


After the first day of information gathering, the students meet and brainstorm potential solutions to the issues posed in the Challenge Statement. The students then pitch their ideas to a group of local judges who weigh the ideas against a rubric of criteria created for the location. In the end, the students leave with practical applications of classroom concepts, and the community gets all the ideas generated and an opportunity to see their community through new eyes.

In the ICNY – Reimagining Greater Old Forge, college and university students are scheduled to come to the area on October 12th and 13th to engage the challenge set forth in our statement. The statement set forth some areas of concern that include;

  • What are examples of diversification of economic activity beyond tourism?
  • What are impediments to economic and social transformation?
  • What are the region’s physical, cultural and economic assets?
  • How might the region gain jobs, economic vitality, and greater reputational assets?

This process has gained support from a diverse group in the community including government, education, business owners, nonprofit organizations and individuals. Dr. Edgell has made the commitment to working with this community in a unique way, because of the nature of the community.

The past ICNY locations have been at SUNY Poly, Oneonta and Utica, Reimagining Old Forge is very different in many ways, which creates opportunities for learning and challenges not faced in the other locations. Geographically, the location includes the largest town in New York State (at 400 square miles) and the hamlet of Inlet.

Additionally, the challenge is presented with not just town regulatory agencies, but state agency regulations because we are in the Adirondack Park. As noted by some of the steering committee, “simple solutions, are not always so simple in the Adirondacks.” Despite these issues, the committee and the community are energized and ready to welcome students, to share what we love about our precious area of the park, its heritage, its gems and its rough-cut side. In return we expect the students who participate to leave with a different view of what it means to live in the Adirondacks and maybe even convince some that this is a place they would want to live in as they venture out after graduation.
 

ICNY event details:

When: Friday October 12 & Saturday, October 13
Where: View Arts Center, 3273 State Route 28, Old Forge

Day 1: Community tours
Day 2: Idea development and reception

For more information, contact Jeffrey Grimshaw, Executive Director of View Arts Center at JGrimshaw@Viewarts.org or (315)-369-6411 Ext 229.

 


 

 

 


 

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