Voices of Community, By PAUL CONNELIE
As the new school year gets under way, high school students across the region are nervously leafing through their newly issued chemistry textbooks. One of the many things they're about to learn about are the different states of matter - simplistically summarized as a solid, liquid or gas. With all respect to Antoine Lavoisier, whose work in the late 18th century ultimately led to one of the cornerstones of modern chemistry - the law of conservation of mass - we often use the terms "mass" and "matter" interchangeably.
While Lavoisier's work focused primarily on the physical state, matter can also apply to the emotional state - as in, what "matters" to a person. People, businesses and organizations all choose a region where they want to be located for specific reasons that matter to them.
As an employee of Benjamin Moore & Co., I can attest to there being very specific reasons that we have a paint manufacturing plant in Johnstown. With easy access to the New York State Thruway, we are able to efficiently get key raw materials delivered to the plant as well as transport millions of gallons of paint every year to three of our key market areas, all of which can be reached within a day: New York City, Boston and Chicago.
With water comprising roughly 30 percent to 40 percent of every gallon of paint, having a reliable, plentiful and high-quality water supply matters to our business. Having an enthusiastic and committed workforce matters to us as well. We have a fantastic team of employees who are your neighbors and friends, and their endorsement of Benjamin Moore as a great place to work is a testament to the strong work ethic that this region's workforce represents. A local government and community that values the contributions a company like Benjamin Moore offers to the region, in the form of environmental and social responsibility, well-paying jobs, a stable tax base and, ultimately, local home ownership, matters to us. During my tenure with Benjamin Moore, I have heard countless stories of how tirelessly this region's business and government leaders worked to convince Benjamin Moore that Johnstown was the right place to build our plant in 1990. That commitment matters.
As a citizen of the Fulton-Montgomery county region, having the opportunity to raise my family in such a close-knit and caring community matters to me. We have met some incredible people and have had the opportunity to work with some amazing groups since we relocated here from New Jersey six years ago. These experiences stand in stark contrast to what life in the "big city" offers, where we often felt lost among a population base of over 8 million. Walking our kids to school each day, seeing the swim teacher at the supermarket, serving on the board of a local charity, chatting with the mayor about great places to go hiking, having a five-minute commute for work, the sense of community pride with each downtown parade where the firefighter who throws a fistful of candy actually knows our name. That's what matters to us.
As a community, we need to know what matters to us. We can be a great region to both live and work. We have to balance both of those needs and leverage the attributes that makes each such a compelling reason to call the region "home." That means responsible growth, municipal cooperation, pride in our local heritage, and the enthusiastic determination to attract continued business and personal investment.
What matters? Our collective future as a region.
Paul Connelie is the plant manager at Benjamin Moore in Johnstown.
Area non-profit organizations interested in submitting a column for Voices of the Community should contact Tim Fonda, managing editor, at (518) 725-8616, Ext. 277. The columns are published on a rotating basis.