By Andrew Harris, 10/10/21
One of the most annoying things about me is that I am very optimistic, especially about Wellsville NY. Sure I was born here and have lived a fairly charmed existence in 14895, but my optimism isn’t born simply from my good fortune. I’ve always contended that one of the most highly prized existences on the planet is a small town, in the rolling hills with a river running through it. Toss in the Norman Rockwell Main Street shopping district, diverse industrial capacity, unique festivals, moderate weather, and places like Island Park: Wellsville is a special place.
The great agent of change, time, has ushered Wellsville in and out of prosperity, poverty, disaster, and even periods of decadence. Yes, Wellsville was once one of the wealthiest places in the free world as we harnessed the power of petroleum, timber, and related industry.
As many of my generation can remember, Wellsville was in pretty good shape in the 1980’s. Our industrial economy was supporting thousands of workers, both blue and white collar. “Dresser” and “Air Preheater” both ran three shifts, and international commerce was commonplace. Danny Hall, the late world famous engineer for ABB/Alstom, was either in China or was entertaining executives from China at the Beef Haus.
The retail economy featured a robust business district, Kmart and Ames set up shop on opposite sides of the village. By 1992, the Riverwalk plaza was born and Main Street was still doing just fine. I was 15 and looking back, that was the ‘crest of the wave,’ and we’ve all watched a general decline in our economy since then.
We’ve lost hundreds, if not thousands of good paying jobs, businesses, and people to the impacts of free trade. NAFTA worked for the nation, but not for small towns on the outskirts of the Rust Belt. The pendulum swung away from many small towns like Wellsville, but the pendulum is swinging back, at least for 14895.
The rumor of a resurgence at the Ljungstrom/Arvos, formerly ABB/Alstom/Air Preheater, has been on the wind for months. Finally, just days ago, state officials announced a massive contract with the wind energy industry had been finalized. Wellsville’s facility is set to do much of this work and hire at least 100 new employees. Let’s just argue and say the average wage will be $50,000. That is $5 million dollars in new wages per year from people who live or work in Wellsville. The economic ripple that money creates is hard to comprehend at this point, and some of our best sources say that the good news is just beginning.
This wonderful and refreshing news comes on the heels of a historic real estate sell off. During the pandemic, most local real estate appreciated in value, sometimes dramatically. The sellers market has left very few available family homes in the market, and the rental market has a very thin inventory. The stage is being set for a new wave of home building and a very strong real estate market. That may seem far fetched for my fellow Wellsville dwellers who are accustomed to bracing for bad news. One hundred new jobs will need somewhere to live and the homebuilding industry is an economic powerhouse.
The news of new jobs isn’t the only bright spot on Wellsville’s horizon. New York State’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) is providing another ‘once in a generation’ opportunity. The village of Wellsville is just beginning the early work of a $10 million dollar downtown improvement effort funded by the state. Program officials are asking Wellsville stakeholders for ideas and vision as they plan to spend the ten million. A public meeting is planned for October 20th to begin formal planning process. Read the full article for more information on that meeting.
Lets review this situation Wellsville: The economy is stabilizing, major commercial development is on the horizon, and the state is providing a small fortune to improve our business district. Investors and families are moving into our community because they can see the potential, and the quality of life. For the first time in many years, the possibility of a property tax cut is being seriously discussed.
The iron is hot, its time to strike. A chance to land a career, not just a job is coming soon. The opportunity to be involved with a major revitalization of our downtown starts next week. Your home and property are about to become more valuable and less hopefully less taxable. That small business idea you’ve been considering just became a lot more realistic.
With all that optimism thrown at you, are you ready to be part of converting these opportunities into assets? How these developments unfold will be in direct relation to the how we react. Let’s be pro-active and less re-active, get involved now. Start thinking about how to contribute, invest, or capitalize today. Send and email to [email protected] and I hope to see you at the October 20th meeting, 6pm, David A Howe Library Auditorium.