Interview with Gloversville Downtown Development Specialist, Jennifer Jennings

jennifer-jennings

  1. How would you describe your role in Downtown Gloversville?

 

As the Downtown Development Specialist, my whole focus is on making Downtown Gloversville a place you want to be – for a few hours or for a lifetime. This includes working with cornerstone and potential business owners, local organizations and community groups, local artists and regular citizens, anyone really. Everyone deserves to live in an amazing place, but everyone also has the ability to help make where they live amazing. My role as the DDS is to be a conduit of ideas and actions so that we all contribute to making Downtown Gloversville the best it can be.

 

  1. What does Gloversville have going for it, in your opinion?

 

So much! We have the most amazing people. We are a little quirky, a little gritty, but oh-so-real. People are ready to see the change that Gloversville is undergoing. I’ve met so many people who are willing to chip in and help out. Sometimes a word of encouragement or support is worth just as much as time and expertise; this means that everyone can be part of the change. A volunteer that I work with likes to say: Be like Gloversville. Be yourself. I think that sums us up perfectly.

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  1. What is the greatest challenge to small business owners in Downtown?

 

I think that the greatest challenge right now is foot traffic. If you have a retail business, you need shoppers. Right now, we don’t have much of that, but it will change. Downtown has a full calendar of events this year – almost one per month from May through December. These events will draw not just residents into the urban core but tourists, and folks living outside of Gloversville. The more people walking Downtown, the greater potential customer base.

 

  1. How can the community in general help and how do you entice them to participate?

 

Anyone can help with making Gloversville the best place it can be. It takes nothing more than a smile and a positive word about our City but if people want to become more involved in the events and initiatives happening throughout the City (and not just in Downtown) all they have to do is reach out. I’m happy to work with volunteers on different Downtown events or connect volunteers with other groups who match their interests. The most important piece of it all is that volunteers feel appreciated and like they have a direct, positive impact on the community.

 

  1. What is your greatest challenge and how will you overcome it?

 

I think the greatest challenge the redevelopment of downtown faces is apathy. A significant segment of the community either doesn’t care one way or another – or believes that nothing good will ever come to Gloversville. My job is to be the City’s cheerleader and to rouse the crowd in support of our amazing City. The full calendar of Downtown events helps win hearts and minds of residents, seeing their neighbors lend a hand and partake in community activities helps as well. But the path to victory isn’t going to be quick or easily won.

 

Electric Cookie Jar

  1. What would you say is the most enjoyable aspect of your job?

 

Honestly, I am excited about pretty much every aspect of my new role. It blends all the things I love to do – event planning, community organizing, mentoring, and networking. The people I have met along the way have been phenomenal and I have truly fallen in love with Gloversville. We are a weird and wonderful place to live. That quirk and charm are going to win over visitors to the City and help transform Gloversville over the next six to ten years.

 

  1. What do you have planned for the future?

 

This year is really all about planning events and building networks within the community so that there is a social and organizational support for future endeavors. There is something called social capital. Social Capital is the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular area. Basically, it’s a fancy word for a well-functioning community. Gloversville is rich in social capital but we just don’t have the connective relationships to link one person or group to each other and that’s what my focus is this first year – connecting people around a common cause. 2018 will be focused on drawing more businesses and developers into Downtown. Business owners and property developers need a track record of good foot traffic and a buzz about a community before they come in. So, that relates back to this year’s event planning.

 

The truth is that over the next three years we will see projects and businesses come into Downtown Gloversville here and there. New apartments will be created in the upper stories of the buildings along Main and Fulton Streets. With new residents, new businesses will open up. The change will be truly noticeable within six to ten years. But growth is all about sustainability. We need to focus on a lot of little things to ensure our continued success well into the future. I think we are on the right track, we’ve already begun to get noticed and the community is excited about everything going on Downtown.

It’s a great first step!

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Interview performed and published Sept.2017