Bruce the Blog

Peekskill AIMs to Become a 'Mediapolis'

What could the city of Peekskill possibly have in common with Silicon Valley, Hollywood and New York City? Like those familiar centers of multimedia creativity and commerce, the historic river town is downright giddy with excitement about transforming itself into a mediapolis, to coin a phrase.

Thanks to local movers and shakers, led by prominent Peekskill businessman Ben Green, the transformation already is under way. Under the auspices of the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce, and with the enthusiastic support of Peekskill Mayor Andre Rainey and the common council, Mr. Green quickly has mobilized a committee to launch an ambitious initiative called Art Industry Media (AIM). (Full disclosure, I am on the board and the committee.)

AIM was announced officially at a Jan. 31 press conference in the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art museum. An impressive roster of speakers was on hand to make the case for why Peekskill is poised to monetize the fast-growing multimedia industry as the centerpiece of an economic development plan.

Sign Up for E-News

To further reinforce the concept’s viability, a weekend of activities March 24-25 will showcase current multimedia businesses, organizations and activities throughout the city (visit artindustrymedia.com). Multimedia, says Ben Green, is any combination of text, audio, still images, moving images, animation or interactive content. “In other words,” he says, “the creative arts industry.”

Mr. Green himself is a musician who in 2002 had his solo recording “Two to One” chart as a Top 30 hit song. Today, he is owner of The Hat Factory, a 100,000-square-foot industrial complex at 1000 North Division St., virtually straddling the Peekskill-Cortlandt border. 

His inspiration for AIM grew out of an astute realization of how his own business has evolved.

“Forty percent of my tenants are engaged in film, post-production, music, digital solutions, graphics, marketing, event design and production,” he told attendees at the Jan. 31 announcement. “That’s a big change for us. Not long ago, light manufacturing and warehousing made up most of our tenancy.”

He then ticked off the reasons that Peekskill has become a magnet for those business owners, including: one-hour commute to New York City; mass transit hub; affordable commercial space at $15-$20 per square foot versus at least three to four times as much per square foot in New York City; Peekskill’s well-established reputation as an arts community that is hospitable to creative professionals, with new artists’ lofts available downtown.

There’s also the not-insignificant attraction of affordable housing. That critical selling point was driven home by one of the speakers, Bre Pettis.

A Croton resident for the past five years, he is co-founder and past CEO of MakerBot, one of the earliest 3D printer companies. A man of many interests and a quick study, he also has been a puppeteer with Jim Henson’s creature shop and an art teacher in Seattle.

After selling MakerBot (since re-branded Stratasys) for enough money to retire on, he instead charged ahead by purchasing in 2017 a Berkeley, Calif., company called Bantam Tools.

Bantam produces a literally cutting-edge manufacturing device known as a “CNC tool.” It is a compact, tabletop machine that interfaces with computer-assisted design (CAD). It is used to create any pattern or shape from wood, plastic, foam or composites. Typical applications are woodworking, prototypes and in classrooms to prepare students for careers in engineering or vocational specialties.

After growing weary of making the cross-country trek from Croton to Berkeley every couple of weeks, Mr. Pettis decided to look into relocating Bantam to Peekskill, where he is a regular at the iconic Peekskill Coffee House, which he frequents with his young daughter.

One day, he asked Coffee House owner Sunny Cover who would be a good person to talk with about moving his company to Peekskill. Without hesitation, she replied, “Ben Green.” The two became fast friends, with the well-connected Mr. Green helping Bre Pettis navigate the local commercial real estate landscape and explaining the AIM concept, which Mr. Pettis called “really powerful.”

By the end of 2018, Mr. Pettis expects Bantam Tools to be up and running in Peekskill, with a five-year plan to add more than 50 jobs to his workforce. He intends to become a brand ambassador for Peekskill, encouraging other entrepreneurs to move their businesses there, with an arsenal of anecdotes and ammo to bolster his sales pitch to them.

When Mr. Pettis brought in his California employees to check out Peekskill, he says they were impressed by the affordable living quarters—compared with $2,800-a-month one-bedroom units in Berkeley—and by the backyards where their dogs could run free.

What also helped Bre Pettis and his team become enamored with Peekskill as the future home for Bantam Tools is something that the lively city has very much in common with Berkeley: a live-and-let-live openness and support of rugged individualism. Peekskill doesn’t hew to a cookie-cutter culture.

“There’s something really powerful about the friendliness of the community you’ve built here,” he told the press conference attendees, which included many Peekskill luminaries, including ubiquitous restaurant owner and city cheerleader Louie Lanza of Hudson Hospitality Group.

“My employees felt like they could be at home here as people from diverse backgrounds,” said Bre Pettis. “The quality of life is good here.”

As an example of the comfort level he has both felt and observed in the city, Mr. Pettis recalled walking into the popular restaurant Birdsall House the day before Halloween.

“I was the guy not dressed as a woman. That says it’s OK to be different, it’s OK to be yourself. That’s part of who you are as a community.”

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Mahopac

Cuomo’s Frivolous Lawsuits Cost Us Money

Since Donald Trump became president, New York State has filed more than 100 lawsuits against the federal government. This includes those filed by both Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It does not include lawsuits filed by the City of New York. Most of them are political in nature, filed to please the plaintiffs’ voting base. In the real world, if we had filed ...

The State of the Democratic Party

Last week, President Trump gave his first State of the Union address. Here are a few things he pointed out:

• Since the election, 2.4 million new jobs have been created.

• Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low.

• African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded.

• Hispanic-American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in ...

Beautiful, 'Clean' Coal

After completing his first full year in office—an alarming year, at that— Donald Trump has concluded that climate change is not a significant national threat and that the sacred lands and waters of this country should be sold to the highest bidder. 

The Trump administration has withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement; deregulated national landmarks; freed public lands for ...

Multigrain, Please

I have no craving for white bread; it’s too plain, predictable and tasteless for me. I hunger for a chunk of multigrain or rye, maybe even a good-sized piece of pumpernickel raisin, with a schmear of cream cheese on the side.

I have no appetite for bland, clean-cut, middle-of-the-road, isolationist politics. And I find unsettling the cultural sameness, gross consumerism and incurious ...

A Trip to the 'Liberry'

Raise your hand if you didn’t—did not—call the library the “liberry” when you were little. I’m guessing not a lot of hands just went up.

Didn’t just about all of us say “liberry” when we were learning to read? (Well, whaddya expect when a place is named something way too easy for little kids to mispronounce?)

OK. Now, raise your hand if ...

Peekskill AIMs to Become a 'Mediapolis'

What could the city of Peekskill possibly have in common with Silicon Valley, Hollywood and New York City? Like those familiar centers of multimedia creativity and commerce, the historic river town is downright giddy with excitement about transforming itself into a mediapolis, to coin a phrase.

Thanks to local movers and shakers, led by prominent Peekskill businessman Ben Green, the ...

I'm Mrs. Heat Miser

To be perfectly honest, I did not need a large rodent with insomnia to convince me that we had six more weeks of winter. It’s been so cold outside lately that when I go out, my nostrils stick together. The dog is so hesitant to go out that he does his business right on the deck, less than five feet from the door, and then gives me a look of contemptuous indignation when he comes back in the ...

Getting Off on the Wrong Foot

“What happened to your ankle?” asked my neighbor when he saw the orthopedic boot on my right foot.

“I tripped while I was in Pamplona running with the bulls,” I told him.

He raised his eyebrows. “Really?”

“No. Not really,” I admitted. “I was actually climbing Machu Picchu and I fell over a llama.”

“Seriously?” he ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, February 21, 6:00 PM

Putnam County Department of Health, Brewster

Freedom from Smoking

Health & Wellness

Wed, February 28, 6:00 PM

Putnam County Department of Health, Brewster

Freedom from Smoking

Health & Wellness

Thu, March 1, 7:00 PM

Kennedy Catholic High School, Somers

The Kennedy Catholic High School Players ...

Arts & Entertainment Other Religions And Spirituality

Bazzo Needs to Get His Facts Straight

February 15, 2018

To the editor,

Once again Mr. Bazzo, in his Feb. 8, column cherry picks facts, ignores other facts, passes along lies and spins so fast to the right that it’s amazing he doesn’t drill himself into the earth.

Bazzo is correct—the economy is doing well, and we should give credit where credit is due. Thank you, President Obama for taking the economy from the brink of another ...