ARISE hosts business incubator tour

TUPPER LAKE – Business incubators and a collaboration with Paul Smith’s College were the main topics during a presentation and tour here Thursday.

The discussion, hosted by Jim LaValley, chairman of ARISE (Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving their Economy), focused on improving the economy of Tupper Lake by getting young entrepreneurs to set up shop.

LaValley said a partnership with Paul Smith’s would help make that concept possible, and even though the details have not been finalized, he is optimistic that the idea will soon become a reality.

“They’re (students) seeing opportunity in Tupper Lake, and some of the concepts they’re working with would work very well,” LaValley said. “Part of the pitch is to take a larger, regional look. If we can create an incubator environment that becomes extremely attractive for a start-up in Tupper Lake, the hope is those concepts will be implemented in Tupper Lake.”

The business incubator would serve as a creative hub in Tupper Lake that anyone with a start-up business idea could utilize.

Philip Taylor, dean of liberal arts, science and business at Paul Smith’s College, took the tour and walked away sharing LaValley’s optimism. He explained that some of the college’s students fulfill their capstone project by developing plans for start-up businesses.

“A lot of times, we can’t quite get them going on their own because they need a place, or some resources, and they wish they could take it to the next level,” Taylor said. “I think the incubator might be the perfect opportunity to do that.”

Paul Smith’s is largely known for its culinary program, but restaurants aren’t the only business idea students there have. Taylor said one student is looking into aquaponics, which could provide locally-grown produce to a community during the winter, and another is interested in a vintage car parts business.

“If the students have a place to settle in and get that great idea going, and then they get some other incubator ideas going, you never know what kind of new ideas will arise from getting creative minds together like that,” Taylor said. “A lot of our students come to the Adirondacks, and they fall in love with it and they wish they could stay, so this might be a way for students to start their own business here and stay connected to the Adirondacks and get themselves imbedded in the Tupper Lake community.”

If the collaboration moves forward, it would be the first of its kind for Paul Smith’s.

Getting students involved was a major component of LaValley’s tour, but it wasn’t the only thing on LaValley’s mind. He said interest in Tupper Lake has been increasing as talk of the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort project has increased.

In November, LaValley helped launch the ADK Works program, an initiative created to keep talk of the ACR in the forefront. LaValley is the also the spokesperson of ADK Works, which was launched with the help of the Northern Adirondack Board of Realtors, which then got the New York State Association of Realtors involved.

In January 2012, the state Adirondack Park Agency voted to approve the ACR. The project was then halted when Protect the Adirondacks, the Sierra Club and some neighbors filed a lawsuit in March of that year.

A final decision on the ACR is expected to happen sometime next year, and local leaders are certain the project will be approved and begin moving forward. LaValley said that hope has drawn the attention of investors who would like to get in on the project in some capacity.

“Tupper is really poised in an interesting way as a result of all the attention that’s been given to the ACR and to Tupper Lake,” LaValley said. “Private investment dollars look for opportunity. Some of the folks that are coming in are interested, not necessarily in buying into the Adirondack Club, but in being involved somehow downtown, or with some other business start-up.

LaValley said he’s heard proposals for restaurants, which could be tied in with Paul Smith’s culinary program, as well as proposals for things like art galleries and museums.

Even if the ACR doesn’t happen, LaValley said the business incubator collaboration could still be successful.

“We’re working carefully with some folks who are interested in doing specific things downtown, folks who are expressing interest in seeing Tupper Lake transform,” LaValley said. “The Adirondack Club is a transformational project, and the private side is seeing that. They’re stepping up and asking questions about when the best time to get involved is. Some are looking to get involved right away, and some are just waiting and watching a little bit.”

Also on the tour was Jim McKenna of Lake Placid; Willie Janeway, the executive director of the Adirondack Council; Melissa McManus, a community development advisor; Ethan Friedman, a member of the Adirondack Council; Phil Wagschal, president of SLIC Network Solutions; and Ryan Murray, a young business investor interested in Tupper Lake.

Contact Shaun Kittle at 891-2600 ext. 25 or