Monday, February 6, 2012

Diversify, Diversify

Diversity of business matters.

True story.  The salt mine in Western New York State wasn’t happy with the railroad’s attempts to raise their rates. The lack of rail service diversity got their ire. So, they shut down the salt mine, waited a few years for the railroad to go bankrupt as a result, and moved to Plan B.

The salt mine owner bought the railroad and re-opened the mine. Today, a century and more later, Genesee & Wyoming doesn’t own the salt mine any more, but they have parlayed that one railroad into a role as an international player in the railroad business. Diversify.

The message?  Diversification starts somewhere.

This morning, I signed a lease on the Port Authority's Building 106 with the principals of Homestead Beer Company LLC. This Summer, our small out building up on the southwest hilltop of our Base campus will see installation of a microbrewery company’s new equipment. Adam and Kevin, the owners who live in Granville, will be moving from a basement brewer to a rent-paying small business.

This is diversification defined. In a few months, where technical orders on shelving sat until recent years, lager and ales will be brewed instead. New life comes to this building originally built by the Air Force in 1993. Business diversity is a good thing.

Some may even joke that we brought beer back to The Base. One of my least popular decisions was the one made in 2002 to “raze” the bar in the former officers' club. We tore down the whole building in 2009. Sorry, though, but the business is a wholesale one, so don’t look to saddle up in the Upper Parking Lot anytime soon.

This is economic development. At one job created per 2,250 s.f., Homestead Beer fits any definition of productive space utilization. Plus, I’m hoping, unabashedly, that Homestead and its customers gets addicted to the taste of Heath water so much that their next, brand new building requires a bigger, new industrial site just down the road.

Good luck, Adam and Kevin.

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