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“Media changes very fast these days, and nothing changes faster than digital,” read an April 2 blog from John Paton, CEO of Digital First Media (DFM), a national newspaper company whose core properties include 280 daily and weekly newspapers in 18 states, including Kingston’s Daily Freeman. “Make a change, then get set in your ways and become reluctant to make other changes and you get left behind.”

Paton blogged that the company had learned new skills and had a higher level of digital skills than it had before. But it was now time to change again. Its Project Thunderdome activities would “go in a different direction.”

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Most of the founders of the American republic — Alexander Hamilton was an exception — could not imagine the people who didn’t farm ever outnumbering those who did. It seemed outlandish (literally) to imagine more people being involved in manufacture than in farming.

Over time the economy changed and our thinking changed. Just as once we couldn’t imagine more people working in making things than in not making them, it came to pass that we could no longer imagine the opposite: more people making things than not making them!

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It was just a matter of time before the enormous, sprawling American healthcare industry became “the healthcare space,” as it was referred to by more than one speaker at the Digital Health conference sponsored by the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation at Marist College last Thursday. At least since historian Frederick Jackson Turner’s influential argument that our unique national character was shaped by the nation’s restless westward expansion, the idea of occupying space has been a positive American theme.

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It’s hard to predict whether a particularly promising technology is going to be transformative. Great corporate names which seemed at one time to offer innovative products or services with unlimited possibilities have turned out in retrospect to have pioneered one-trick ponies. Several seemingly more modest enterprises, on the other hand, have managed to transform themselves into world leaders in what has seemed the blink of an eyelash.

We make lists of technologies that seem to us to have transformative potential. Several years after 3D printing was invented in 1983, this technology started to appear on top-ten lists of transformative technologies. The fact it’s still on these lists decades later, though probably a promising sign, is just that: a promising sign.

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These are gut-wrenching times for Hudson Valley local hospitals. The urgent need for consolidation of cornerstone economic institutions assembled over a century or more on a community foundation is no easy concept for those in charge of their destinies to cope with, as those in charge of their destinies are well aware. But cope they must. In the next few years, virtually all the hospitals in the region are expected to align with other hospitals and other healthcare entities, such as insurers, doctors’ groups and outpatient facilities.

The big story in the world of Hudson Valley healthcare this month was the sale for $27 million plus other considerations and assurances of the Poughkeepsie-based St. Francis Hospitals and Health Centers, estimated to be $50 million in debt, to Westchester Medical Center. After a series of rapid-fire developments that favored Westchester Medical, Health Quest, the other competitor, withdrew. In deciding to withdraw from the bidding process, Health Quest’s board blamed “intervention by state and federal regulatory authorities.”

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Brooklyn-based MakerBot is considered the world leader in desktop 3D printers. Company founder and CEO Bre Pettis has received all kinds of media accolades, including being named one of the world’s top ten thinkers in 2013 by CNN.

MakerBot’s “thingiverse” website, from which more than 100,000 objects created by users of its machines can be downloaded and printed out, demonstrates how technology is bringing about a cultural revolution of sorts, which some experts see as transforming passive consumers into creative manufacturers.

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New York City is a powerhouse of venture capital funding. According to The MoneyTree Report, companies based in the New York metropolitan area attracted $1.2 billion of investment dollars in the fourth quarter of 2013, second only to the Silicon Valley.

For entrepreneurs upstate, New York City might as well be a million miles away. “Everybody knows there’s no money upstate,” said Brian Model, managing partner of Stonehenge Growth Equity Partners and president of UVANY, or Upstate Venture Association of New York, which is working with regional networks across the state to boost business development through investment in small businesses. “The area north of the Tappan Zee Bridge is invisible.”

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