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County business groups brace for tough times

According to Steiner, in terms of new projects and businesses, growth is slowing down.

"Everyone is looking at how they can do business differently or how they need to do business differently, and they're drawing attention to [that]," said Steiner.

There are plans in place to try to bring more businesses into Schenectady, though.

The Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation, for example, is trying to come up with creative ways to bring people into the city and keep them there for more than one destination or activity.

"Back in the fall, we worked with the staff and created a road map for what we want to continue in 2009 and help bring attention to local businesses," said Jim Salango, executive director of the Downtown Schenectady Metroplex Authority.

He said Metroplex officials hope to drive a little traffic to the area through various incentives, including the publishing of a glossy quarterly newsletter to promote information about downtown Schenectady, and a number of events, such as Restaurant Week, which is coming up this month. They also want to come up with new ways to drive more traffic between Schenectady County Community College and Union College. They have also come up with "experience packages."

"[These are] where people will come downtown to do more than one thing," said Salango. "There are so many things to do down here now. We want to package things so that people can come down here and for one price get the full downtown experience."

The Downtown Schenectady Improvement Incorporation is also working on marketing materials, such as new maps of the area featuring local attractions and updated information kiosks.

"Driving awareness lets people know what's here and gives them an excuse or a reason to come down. Once you know what's available, you have much more reason to come down. It definitely makes a difference to give people that extra push," said Salango.

On a state level, according to a survey conducted by the Retail Council of New York State where businesses can grade their success during the holiday retail season, many surveys came back with businesses giving themselves the lowest letter grade yet " a C-.

The survey has been conducted since 1991.""

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