The Peekskill business community last week heard first-hand about the city’s new vision for economic development.
At the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce’s February Business Breakfast February 7, Peekskill’s new City Manager Andy Stewart and Economic Development Specialist Matthew Rudikoff spoke to a filled Dramatic Hall about how the city is poised to stimulate growth for all types of businesses.
“We want to make sure that local government opens the door to people that work hard and have passion for the place they love,” Stewart said. “We have to do that all the time. If the city does its job really well, it makes everybody’s lives, work and businesses that much more successful.”
On the job only 17 days, Stewart noted that Peekskill has more potential to attract new businesses and keep current ones than it ever had in the past and added a big part of maintaining that status is the perception of the city’s regulatory review process by perspective investors.
“The one thing we really are responsible for is having a new project review process which is predictable, transparent and isn’t perceived as hazardous or unfair,” he said. “What we need to strive for is a sense of trust. The city is a partner who will do its best to give fair consideration to all stakeholders.”
Stewart said he was honored to be working with officials in city hall. “They are very impressive in their skill sets and there is a real dedication in city hall to foster positive momentum,” he said. He also made a plea for the upcoming 2020 Census and how important it was for all Peekskill residents to be counted. “There’s always an undercount. For each resident in Peekskill who doesn’t get counted it cost about $2,500 in loss of federal funding that can be for infrastructure, parks and several programs. Try to spread the word.”
Census 2020 officially starts April 1.
Rudikoff said he has been canvassing the business landscape and familiarizing himself with Peekskill citizens’ and cultural groups and local alliances. “The new project ideas are going to come from the stakeholders that are already here. They’re the ones where the most sustainable ideas come from,” he remarked.
Rudikoff said he is looking for new economic stimulus in ‘Opportunity Zones,’ businesses that can offer students preliminary opportunities for apprenticeships and internships along with GED (General Education Development) programs.
“The best [business] incubators offer business related skills connected to entrepreneurship where one can learn about budgeting, marketing, acquiring certifications and licenses,” he said. “This can increase the prospect of starting their own businesses.”
For a business to have access to an Opportunity Zone is financially attractive, Rudikoff explained. “If a business has funds to invest in a project, they are exempt from capital gains, an incentive for investors who want to create new ventures.”
The breakfast ended with a brief talk by Lauren Molella, Miss New York 2019. She spoke about how special is was to be crowned on June 8, 2019 at Peekskill’s Paramount Theatre. She competed for the title of Miss America 2020 in December 2019