Since 2009 we’ve engaged thousands of Hudson Valley citizens and dozens of community groups and nonprofits through a range of programs. The goals of each event have varied, but there’s been a common thread: connection.

Communities thrive when people work together, play together, share ideas, and — well — commune. That’s what happened at the Main Street Summit on Sept. 26 (2017).

The Highlands Current, our media sponsor, was on the scene: Check out this recap in the Oct. 6 issue.

When I planned the summit with Katie Hellmuth Martin of A Little Beacon Blog in the spring we expected maybe 30-40 people. We had to stop selling tickets the morning of the forum when we reached 70, and more showed up at the door.

It warms our collective hearts to see how many people care about our place.

We convened fellow business owners and managers and city leaders to address some of the issues we confront in Beacon — as a community and in our businesses.

I kicked off the panel by quoting community economist Michael Shuman:

The wealthiest communities are those with the highest percentage of jobs in businesses that are locally owned. A growing body of evidence suggests that local ownership in businesses pumps up the multiplier effect of every local dollar spent, which increases local income, wealth, jobs, taxes, charitable contributions, economic development, tourism, and entrepreneurship.

Afterwards I mentioned the Indie Impact Study that Re>Think Local commissioned several years ago: We found that locally owned retailers in the Hudson Valley keep more than 4 times more money circulating in the local economy than corporate chains and restaurants keep more than 2.5 times more money here.

Then we launched into an interactive discussion about development and gentrification that led into a number of other issues audience members brought up (some of which are quoted in the Current piece).

Afterwards, everyone broke out into two rounds of four roundtable discussions to dive into roll-up-your-sleeves issues: operations, staffing & expansion, PR & marketing, and money matters.

Mostly, though, we convened folks to connect in the flesh and support one another.


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