By Connor Linskey
Randi Picarello, Business Council of Greater Montgomery Executive Directo, presented the group’s future plans at last Tuesday’s Walden Village Board meeting.
Picarello is approaching each village within the Town of Montgomery as well as the town’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA) for a 2021 membership with the business council. The IDA is being asked for $5,000, while each village is being asked for $2,500.
Membership money would go toward things like supplies for beautification efforts, fundraising for events, advertising, marketing, working expenses and payroll.
The group plans to create a mentorship program for students in the community. This would begin at the high school level for approximately one to two years and then extend to the middle school level. The council plans to use 112 Bracken Road, a building attached to Montgomery Town Hall, to prepare students for the workforce.
“New York State has fallen far behind the rest of the country in terms of having a qualified and ready workforce,” said Montgomery Town Supervisor Brian Maher in a virtual tour of 112 Bracken Road. “Here in the Town of Montgomery, we’re gonna make sure that we are the flagship for both the region and the state, to make sure that we have very talented employees that work here and live here and can fill these businesses.”
The building would contain six or seven pods, each made up of students with different interests. The council will work with both local businesses and the Valley Central School District. Lessons would take place either after school or on the weekends.
The group hopes to get businesses working together. New business owners will be mentored through a business to business program, so they can learn about all the different aspects of entrepreneurship. The council also plans to distribute surveys to prospective tourists and residents to see what services and stores they would like to see in the three villages.
Maintaining each village’s specific events and character is important to the business council, however group members will take one village’s strengths and implement it to other villages. The council has separated into several subcommittees, each tasked with developing ideas regarding how each village can improve.
“The main goal in the end is obviously a boost to economic development and tourism,” Picarello said.
Village Trustee Willie Carley asked Picarello to explain the difference between a chamber of commerce and the business council. Picarello noted that the council is like a chamber of commerce in that it is a form of business network. The main difference between the two is the education it will offer to the youth and business owners.
“We’re really trying to make sure that more than discounts and deals, we’re connecting people with people...,” Picarello said. “I think that people don’t realize the difference in the quality that you get when you use a local accountant, a local attorney, a local insurance agent. You’re putting a face to the name and although you might be paying a little bit more, you have someone that’s accountable to you.”