By Todd Shimkus
I took a ride last year from Saratoga to Albany in a self-driving car. It wasn’t a test. I was simply traveling to a meeting with a person who owned a car that could get us there by itself.
It was a moment of clarity as the car changed lanes or slowed down while the driver and I spoke. I really saw how the speed of change is both rapid and likely underestimated locally.
Every day, new technologies are being used by our neighbors. New products are being invented that will open up new doors to us while simultaneously challenging our expectations, our laws, and our local economy.
I like to think that Saratoga is a place where people take risks. We’ve been betting on horses for more than 150 years. We realize that some will win and some will lose.
Looking ahead to 2017, I hope we can bet on more winners than losers. To find these winners, we will need to be more flexible than ever before. We should be ready to pivot as new rules are created or new technologies become available.
Perhaps this starts with us doing the following:
• Invent and promote new reasons for people to visit Saratoga County. With more hotel rooms and restaurants, we need to attract more visitors. We have a solid foundation but we’ll need to consider new amenities, new events, new promotions, new markets, and more.
• Find common ground and work together. Our Veterans Business Council ran the Firecracker 4 together in formation this past year demonstrating the power of teamwork. The bipartisan legislation approved in 2016 to re-privatize NYRA demonstrated what we can do in Saratoga County when we see a solution and drive together to get things done.
• Be entrepreneurial and support risk taking. When you see that we just cut a ribbon to celebrate the opening of a new business, try out this business. See what they have to offer. Buy local all year long. And if you have your own business idea, call us. We provide free confidential advice to everyone via our award-winning SCORE program.
• Think big and act small. Leaders across Saratoga County have been working for years to build new trails for hiking and biking. With new grants coming in 2017, we are getting closer to connecting these trails and building a network that will be the envy of many. We should do the same with workforce housing.
• Live Fit. Get Fit. Eat Fit. We now live in the healthiest county in New York state. Every organization and individual can help us to stay here. This makes our area a more attractive place for businesses to locate and people to live.
We will certainly achieve far more success in 2017 if we work together and support those who take risks. Throw in a little flexibility, a focus on our own health and a willingness to act small to make progress on our big ideas and we’ll see Saratoga County lead the way for years to come. I’ll bet on it.