"Tough Time in Utica" isn't so tough for all
The city of Utica has had it's fair share of hard times in recent years. Now a number of city residents are taking offense to a photo essay on the Albany Times Union website showing some of the worst parts of the city. Our Andrew Sorensen tells us why some Uticans feel the essay is unfair and what they feel the photographer may have missed.
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UTICA, N.Y. -- Spencer Platt's photo essay entitled "Tough Times in Utica" shows a city crippled by the economy with high unemployment, run-down buildings and empty shops.
But many are residents don't feel the story, which was posted to the Albany Times Union website, was entirely accurate.
"When you do a story, in the way that story proposed the city, you have to tell the whole story," Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said.
One of the complaints about the photo essay is that it not include anything about the area's ability to innovate. The trend here now, as in many parts of the country, is toward small business.
Take Chris Giruzzi: He graduated from Utica College to find his job prospects were slim.
So he turned to cooking, entering recipes into a Food Network contest.
"My green explosion chili starter made it to the semi-finals in 2007. So I researched what it would take to start a food business and I went from there," Giruzzi said.
Chris uses farmer's markets to get the Sammy and Annie Foods name out there.
He also sells his products at retailers around town, including Utica Coffee, another local start-up.
Gina Chiaccia helps her friends at Utica Coffee on the farmer's market circuit.
She explained that they started small, being open only a couple of days a week: "Now our shop is open five days a week, and we're getting our product into lots of local stores local businesses and online as well."
Many local businesses seem to be banding together to survive and flourish.
"It's important to me because I don't want to live in a world where Walmart is my only option," Chiaccia said.
"The major corporations, those are all necessary and successful and fruitful, but you know, the heart of the community, and a growing community is small business," Picente added.
So Utica may have its run down psychiatric center, and not every building has a fresh coat of paint, but they do have the resilience to keep creating, innovating, and moving forward.
The Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce is one of the biggest tools small businesses in Utica use.
They can help businesses get health care and legal services as well as many other key services.