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October 09, 2007



I often tell my friends who live in other places that I live in Albany because of the natural beauty of this area and the fact that I have to travel only a short time to be in rural and natural areas. Albany is very inexpensive and compact, so it is not far to most locations. There is some really beautiful architecture here, as well. Plus, we have lot of water. The Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, all the creeks that flow into them, the lakes and ponds nearby and in the Adirondacks, and the Erie Canal all add to the beautiful "waterscapes" we have.

A few comments about the Denver mayor's comments:
"I also like to mention our values, which I see as uniquely Western values." I don't understand what Western values are. He should elaborate.

Miriam Axel-Lute

I think he meant the future not the past thing to be an explanation of Western values. I agree, that part sounds pretty politician-y to me.

Miriam Axel-Lute

I posted this on the HomeSweetAlbany LiveJournal group too, and it's getting a lot of response there. I'll try to get to copying the actual pitches over here, but for now, check out the discussion.
(Scroll down through the restaurant discussion; there's more past there.)


That's a tough one, especially because the Capital Region tends to function as a whole in many ways (highways can make it just as fast to get from Albany to Troy as to get from one end of Albany to another). And a lot of the reasons people have for moving here is because it's not some other place (cheaper than downstate, etc.) or it allows access to other places (NYC, Boston, Montreal, Adirondacks).

Some other cities do seem to me like they have an underlying character- my sense of Denver was of general outdoorsiness, Seattle in '99 felt progressive and innovative and ambitious (and the constant presence of Mt. Rainier really did lend a sense of environmental permanence), St. Louis felt scrappy and bluesy and historically grounded. But I never experienced them as a permanent resident, when I would have been more attuned to individual neighborhood quirks. What do tourists think of Albany? Maybe to get a good overall sense of a city it's better NOT to live there. Albany's status as the state capital is fairly irrelevant to me, for example, but it seems like it should be a pretty significant part of its character....


Here are the key ideas that I would include in a Albany pitch to a major corporation.

- Albany is 2.5 hours to Penn Station via rail. 3 hours to NYC or Boston via car.
- Cost per square foot for real estate is 5x-15x less expensive than New York or Boston.
- Zero traffic.
- Nonstop flights to Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore/DC, Charolette, Philly, Tampa
- Access to significant college population (RPI, Albany, Union, etc)
- Extensive fiber optic infrastructure already built out to support state government operations
- Multiple "last-mile" providers of business broadband. (Verizon, Time Warner, Tech Valley)
- Quick access to outdoors, attractions, etc.
- Availablity of state empire zone/etc incentives.

An elevator pitch is to a specific audience, so I deliberate downplayed the quality of life aspect of Albany. IMO, the message that needs to get across is that Albany is a great destination for financial services, some technical firms/technical divisions of big companies or similar industries that are questioning the huge operating costs in Manhattan and Boston.

If you can find a Boston/NYC firm with 500 employees looking for a place to go and show them that they can spend 30% less per square foot, 15% less in electricity and still be within 2 hours of HQ, AND the State will pay your local taxes for 5 years... that could be a workable deal.

The Comprehensive Plan needs to look at other factors as well. But if you want effective elevator pitches you need to address the needs of different constituencies.

For example:
- Big Business - "Why Come Here"
- Small Business - "Why Start Here"
- Retiring professionals looking to downsize. - (People with money and no kids = $ for the city)
- New college grads - (Most of them leave today. How do you stop that?)
- State workers - (There's 100,000+ of them... why not live here?)
- Working Poor - (They need opportunity, mass transit, etc)
- Tenants - (Encourage ownership)
- Existing Homeowners - (How to stop the sticker shock on Sept 1 and Jan 1 when the tax bills cometh.)

Marnen Laibow-Koser

(Sorry about the late response, but this is an interesting exercise, particularly since I've just moved to Albany from Poughkeepsie.)

Brainstorming (and marking ones that would also apply to Troy with [T]):

* Centrally located in NY state [T]
* Pleasant, safe, relatively little crime
* Inexpensive [T]
* Easy access to NYC, Montreal, Boston, good road and air connections [T]
* Beautiful setting [T]
* Small city, human-size, easy to navigate -- although traffic congestion can be an issue
* Many universities and tech firms in Capital District [T]
* Cultural attractions: lots of performing arts at the Palace, Egg, and elsewhere, NYS Museum, Albany Institute, other stuff (lots of great food, funky coffeehouse and club scenes)
* State government is easily accessible
* Relaxed feel to Albany life (hard to put more concretely than that)

And yet...the city is somewhat "sleepy". I feel like we need to attract more culture and vitality if we want to attract people.

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