AIM ’18 Celebrates Peekskill as ‘Mediapolis’ in the Making

Event-filled Weekend, March 24-25, to Showcase the City’s Affinity for Synergizing Art, Industry & Media
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PEEKSKILL, NEW YORK –  AIM ’18 is a weekend-long series of activities March 24-25 created to celebrate the lower Hudson Valley’s emergence as a “mediapolis” – a thriving hub of multimedia creativity and commerce. The first-time event is centered in the resurgent riverfront city of Peekskill.

AIM ‘18 is being coordinated under the auspices of the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce, which has formed a new committee, branded AIM – symbolizing Peekskill’s affinity for synergizing Art, Industry and Media.

AIM is the brainchild of Peekskill business leader Ben Green, owner of the 100,000-square-foot Hat Factory, an industrial complex where 40% of the tenants are engaged in some form of multimedia business.

“AIM is an economic development initiative to bring prosperity and opportunity to the families of Peekskill,” said Mr. Green. “We help families when we create prosperity and opportunity for parents, as well as future jobs for their children.

“Our goal is to position and promote Peekskill and the surrounding area as a hub for multimedia in the Hudson Valley. AIM ‘18 is our inaugural event that will showcase the Hudson Valley region’s multimedia art, industry and educational resources.”

Mr. Green himself is a musician who in 2002 had his solo recording Two to One chart as a Top 30 hit song.

His inspiration for AIM came from 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 said. “That’s a big change for us. Not long ago, light manufacturing and warehousing made up most of our tenancy.”

Mr. Green listed several reasons that Peekskill has become a magnet for multimedia business owners, including: proximity to New York City; a mass transit hub; affordable commercial space at $15-20 per square foot, versus at least three to four times that much per square foot in New York City; and Peekskill’s growing reputation as an arts community that is hospitable to creative professionals, with new artists’ lofts available downtown.

Prominent AIM supporters include entrepreneurs Bre Pettis and Louie Lanza.

Mr. Pettis is founder and past CEO of pioneering 3D printer company MakerBot (now named Stratasys). He is relocating his Berkeley, Calif. company Bantam Tools to Peekskill, where it will produce affordable, desktop PCB milling machines that can create any pattern or shape from wood, plastic, foam or composites. Typical uses are woodworking, prototypes and for students of engineering or other vocations.

Louie Lanza has been called “a serial restaurateur” for opening a half-dozen food and beverage destinations in Peekskill since fall 2014. His leadership role in the city’s revitalization also has earned him the sobriquet “Pied Piper of Peekskill.” Next on Mr. Lanza’s bucket list is opening a boutique hotel downtown--on top of a museum: The Hudson Valley Center of Contemporary Art hopes to relocate to the new hotel’s ground level, re-branding itself Hudson Valley Museum of Contemporary Art (HVMOCA).

Kicking off AIM ’18 weekend activities, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 24, is a panel discussion titled “How Multimedia Can Be an Engine for Economic Development.” Panelists are Peekskill Mayor Andre Rainey, New York state Senator Terrence Murphy and Assemblywoman Sandra Galef, and Westchester County director of operations Joan McDonald. Moderator is Lawrence Scherer, of Albany-based government relations firm State & Broadway, whose clients include entertainment unions and companies.

AIM ’18 has assembled a marquee lineup of participating venues: Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art (HVCCA), Paramount Hudson Valley Theater, Peekskill Arts Alliance, Peekskill Clay Studios, Peekskill Film Festival, and Westchester Community College. Each venue will host an event designed to showcase the City of Peekskill’s extensive resources for fostering art, industry and education.

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