Business man wants growth for Eastside - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Business man wants growth for Eastside

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January 18, 2006

Albany -- A business owner who recently moved to East Albany says he is surprised his neighbors do not believe there can be future growth in their community.

Now he is calling for East Albany businesses to take the lead, for a revitalization in the area.

Fred Balke took over a mobile home park in East Albany nine months ago, and has turned his business into a winner. His first step was clearing out the trash and overgrown bushes. "To try to clean up and improve the overall look of the park, and open it up so people could see there is actually a community here," Balke said.

Balke came from Norfolk, Virginia with a solid business plan. He rents home lots, but also fixes up old mobile homes for re-sale. Now his Pine Bluff Country Estates is prospering, but he wonders why so many of his neighbors are not upbeat about the area.

"It surprised me that people had a negative viewpoint of East Albany."

Now Balke is meeting with other East Albany business people, urging them to join together and believe in their community. "The only thing that seemed to be lacking was people who had a vision that they could build a business there and do well."

Balke has made City Commissioner Jon Howard a believer, and he is joining in his call for optimism. "I certainly think it can revitalize East Albany. This is a step in the right direction."

Balke thinks each person and business in East Albany needs to clean up, and make their area one people want to live in, starting with a positive attitude that they will succeed. "We need to get the rest of the community believing that this is an area that should draw other businesses, and it's going to be a positive."

Balke thinks that by cleaning up, and driving out crime together, East Albany will attract more people, which will attract business investment and growth. "We can all kind of come together and be part of this whole change in East Albany."

A businessman new to East Albany, who sees opportunity, not old excuses.

On January 27th and 28th Balke will host business partners he has worked with in other cities, who are coming to East Albany to look at the area's potential.

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