Business students conduct an economic development study
NEW PALTZ -- Economic development in the Village of Fleischmanns is the topic of a major study being undertaken by SUNY New Paltz School of Business students between now and May. Four students and two advisors will work with elected officials, business owners and residents of the village to develop a workable plan for attracting entrepreneurs and rebuilding an economic base for the community. Funded in part by the A. Lindsay and Olive B. O'Connor Foundation and the Pasternak Family Foundation, the study is being administered by the M-ARK Project and will dovetail with other planning efforts underway in the village now.
Led by community development specialists Ann Barber Smith of Ann Barber Consulting and Danielle Semenchuk of SUNY New Paltz, the four business students will develop a current situation analysis, research other communities throughout the United States, analyze as many as 100 economic development case studies and narrow the results to a few case studies that might be applicable in rural Delaware County. Garrett Munro, Simone Obermaier, Jacqueline Kornet and Virginia Benda began their work in the community recently by touring the village and meeting with a number of residents to learn about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that face the community today.
"All of us are very excited about working on this project," said Smith when contacted this week. "We look forward to talking with as many Fleischmanns residents and business owners as possible, and to researching work that's been done in other small communities throughout the United States." Prior to developing her own consulting business, Smith served as President and CEO of the Orange County Partnership, a private, non-profit organization which promotes economic development in Orange County. Ms. Smith holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Connecticut College in New London, CT, a Masters in Community Development from Hunter College School of Social Work, and an MBA from Fordham University. She spent 15 years in the banking industry, providing financing to large, multinational corporations, mid-sized and small businesses as well as high net worth individuals.
Semenchuk, who is the Director of Business Projects at the SUNY New Paltz School of Business was equally optimistic about the Fleischmanns project. The community has such a great wealth of history on which to build. With its pool, museum, library, ball park and many, many historic structures, there's a lot that can be done to reinvigorate the economy." Semenchuk added that "in addition to giving the community some templates for economic development, we hope to help them hone in on the concepts that could best be adapted to Fleischmanns." Semenchuk, who received a B.A. in Psychology from Marist College and an M.B.A. from SUNY New Paltz, has served as a data specialist for an Ulster County human service planning organization and serves as a grant writer for a local non-profit. As part of her Master's work, she conducted a study to measure the economic impact of SUNY New Paltz on the Hudson Valley and NYS.
M-ARK Project Executive Director Joan Lawrence-Bauer noted that the study will be more than just an academic exercise for which the student's will earn college credit. "As soon as this study is complete, we will immediately seek funding to implement concepts and ideas proposed." Lawrence-Bauer added that it would take a combination of private investment, community reinvestment and grant funding to implement economic development improvements in Fleischmanns but said that "with a blueprint that offers some guarantee of success, it is easier to attract the sorts of funding that will be needed."
The research team is planning a community-wide meeting this spring to hear directly from stakeholders in the village about what they think the community needs. In the meantime, each of the students on the team is researching a different segment of community life to be considered in the overall plan. Monthly reports on project progress and status will be made to the Fleischmanns Village board through the M-ARK Project. Questions and concerns for the students may be directed to Lawrence-Bauer at the M-ARK Project office which will refer them on to the research team. For more information, call 845-586-3500 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.