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Tomorrow is ours

July 7, 2011
By Clyde Rabideau - Mayor, Saranac Lake , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

So far, so good for Saranac Lake in 2011. Trudeau Institute affirmed its continued presence, Adirondack Correctional Facility dodged the prison closure list, and the village signed up two biotech companies in its downtown. In fact, it isn't so much "so far, so good," for Saranac Lake, but rather it's "so far, so great."

Time now to give thanks and plan the next crucial steps.

First, thanks to the Trudeau Board of Trustees which found value and basis for keeping its facility and staff in its birthplace and continuing their important life immunology research. They verified their faith in us, and we, in turn, wholeheartedly support them and their mission.

We're also thankful to the Prison Closure Commission, appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, for recognizing the vital economic impact that correctional facilities have for communities such as ours, which is surrounded by 6 million acres of parkland and economically limited by environmental regulations.

We also offer thanks to the corporate management of both Myriad RBM and Active Motif. They recognized what Saranac Lake offers and chose our community as the place in which to grow to the next level. Both companies are products of local entrepreneurs who set out on their own after Upstate Bio left Lake Placid years ago. They want to stay in the Adirondacks and carry on their professions. They will become important parts of our community in the years ahead.

The Saranac Lake trustees deserve thanks, too. They coalesced, stayed focused and tirelessly worked for 14 months, creatively putting the necessary deals together that not only brought two biotech firms to Saranac Lake but, in the process, strengthened the downtown base, gave potential to even more cooperation between the village and town of Harrietstown, and solved the downtown parking challenge. This does not happen every day, nor does it happen with every board. Aiding Team Saranac Lake were dedicated village staff who took on the added burdens of negotiation and planning with gusto and a positive attitude. They were crucial to making the deals work.

A tip of the hat to the town of Harrietstown board, which, in its words, "are part of the downtown parking lot solution." Plus, they will fill space in their town hall - vacant for two years - at a profit. Excellent job.

Our next steps require the same focus, good will and creativity. The village must soon move its offices to the town hall, requiring more than just Madden's moving van. Office layouts must be carefully planned and an intricate web of data and telecommunications transferred and installed. A completely new way of doing things will happen while citizens familiarize themselves to a different locale and routine. Patience and understanding will be keys.

Next, we must get to work retrofitting the village office building and water building to the needs of our new corporate tenants, on time and on budget; a sizable amount of construction must happen soon so we are ready for the biotech companies in February. We must prepare for some disruption and inconvenience on lower Main Street, our new "Biotech Boulevard."

Then we have to keep the companies here and bring other biotechs to Saranac Lake. This is where we, as a community, must recognize the opportunity and really work together. We now have a critical mass of bioscience concerns in Saranac Lake - a "bio-cluster," which is now the envy of so many other communities in New York. It's up to us to leverage this base into a sustainable job generator by redoubling our investment into not just "shovel-ready" space but "move-in-ready" space.

We'll travel to urban bioscience centers throughout the U.S. and Canada to form alliances and market ourselves as the alternative, "non-urban" bioscience center, "a place where scientists carry backpacks and not briefcases, wear hiking boots and not high heels." It may take a hundred calls and trips to uncover even one lead, but that's what it takes. We can't rest. The global economy is too competitive to rest on laurels and take things for granted. Saranac Lake must keep marching ahead - mindful of the importance of its existing businesses and professionals - and supportive of other exciting life science endeavors even now unfolding. St. Joseph's Treatment Center will soon expand - adding a hefty 15 jobs - as the Homeward Bound Adirondacks initiative offers compassionate transition for our American war vets and the chance for Saranac Lake to reclaim even more of its proud health and wellness history.

Now is the time to look ahead with clear direction and pull together. Saranac Lake biotech/life science isn't just talk or fantasy. It's here. Today is the day many have waited for. Tomorrow is ours for the taking.



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