The winds of change are everywhere
And all the world must be aware
There’s nowhere left for man to go
The sands of time are running low.

— Judas Priest lyrics


It’s not unusual that a widely anticipated business deal collapses shortly before consummation. Such an event occurred last week when the sale for a rumored $400 million of the second largest newspaper company in terms of circulation in the country was called off. The holdings of Digital First Media, owner of 76 daily newspapers and 160 weeklies, include the Daily and Sunday Freeman of Kingston. DFM estimates its total audience at 67 million people.

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“We got some major water problems here with all the flooding going on …. I love it! Keep it coming, Mother Nature! Keep it coming!” Adam Skelos told his father, according to the complaint. Both laughed, and then Dean Skelos replied, “It will.”

— Excerpt from transcript in complaint against state senate majority leader Dean Skelos as recorded for U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Preet Bharara

Disaster’s a growth industry these days. Think of all the worst things that could happen to you, your family, your community, your business. Dystopian visions abound. You can’t be prepared enough.

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 “From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April dress’d in all his trim
Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing,
That heavy Saturn laugh’d and leap’d with him.
Yet nor the lays of birds nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odour and in hue
Could make me any summer’s story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew …”

— Sonnet 98, William Shakespeare

Five hours and ten minutes before the end of April, an audience of about 125 persons gathered in the SUNY Ulster cafeteria outside Stone Ridge. They were there to find out more about the future of local agriculture from the most recent, most earnest and most well-heeled entrant into that world, the Hudson Valley Farm Hub at the 1255-acre former Gill Farm on the Hurley Flats just west and southwest of Kingston.

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 Some parts of the dynamic American economy are growing very rapidly, and others are shrinking just as fast. The mission of economic development should include positioning one’s region or locality to be as much as possible where the positive action is. In a place like Ulster County, so close to New York City, that shouldn’t be impossible.

That means knowing about what’s happening, where it’s happening and why it’s happening. To get from where one is to where one wants to be, a well-thought-out business strategy is needed. That strategy has to be based on real numbers, the very latest available.

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This Monday morning 22 persons, prospective angel investors and accompanying seraphim, met in an ex-IBM conference room at 300 Enterprise Drive at TechCity to discuss creation of a venture capital fund for the mid-Hudson region. Ten tables had been combined into one, and each being celestial and otherwise comfortably occupied an identical leather, metal and plastic chair around the resulting long table. The gathering heard from Dick Frederick and Joe Richardson of the Eastern New York Angels (ENYA), managing partners of an Albany-centered member-managed seed investment fund which had raised $1.4 million four years ago and invested $50,000 to $250,000 in each of seven local early-stage tech firms. According to the Albany Business Review, ENYA has now raised a new round of $2.5 million to invest in four or five new businesses plus those it previously supported. So far, the newspaper said, 22 of the 35 investors in the original round are also on board for the second one.

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As IBM has been struggling to reposition itself by investing heavily in cloud computing, big data and analytics, and enterprise mobile and social connectivity, so Marist College’s Cloud Computing and Analytics Center (CCAC) has been experimenting with providing software, services, support and training to local businesses “at a fraction of the commercial cost.” (Cloud computing operates like a utility, allowing economies of scale based on shared services and converged infrastructure.)

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photo by JD Hancock

 “I want every American looking for work to have the same opportunity…have one program, one website, and one place to go for all the information and help that they need. It is time to turn our unemployment system into a reemployment system that puts people to work.” — Barack Obama

 America’s made considerable progress toward improving its complex workforce development program. Last year the new federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) passed both houses of Congress by substantial margins in a bipartisan vote after two years of negotiations. The president promptly signed the bill into law. It will go into effect this July 1. The specific rules which will govern it are yet to be published.

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