Rome, NY has been my home for about a dozen years now, minus college and that one year I lived in Massachusetts. I kept trying to move away for a while - and here’s why:
Rome used to have its very own full-fledged Air Force Base attached at the hip. The city thrived, as most do when you have a guaranteed steady stream of people to pay for whatever service you offer. It also boasted its own industrial side, and it was a city rich in history, with the Erie Canal in its back yard.
Then the base left. And the people left. And the wire plant left. And a lot of things left. And things went to crap pretty quickly.
It was a town sorely in need of help when we got there. Everything needed help, nothing more than the attitudes of the people who lived there. The base had been gone for eight years when we arrived, and they were still complaining about it. I mean yeah it hurt - obviously - but they were picking at an old wound instead of letting it heal. When they got a chance, they’d throw in how annoyed they were that dozens of run-down homes were torn down in the center of town to make way for what is now a nationally-acclaimed “living history” state park that brings to light the crucial role Fort Stanwix had in the American Revolutionary war.
Any talks of making the town better turned to “get the base back & get rid of the Fort.” Discussions about the future often ended with “just move somewhere else,” or “if only the wire plant were still here.” The eyes of many residents were aimed to the past, not the future.
But there have always been the cheerier, more hopeful voices of others who saw the seeds under the mud everyone else was focused on. Art galleries have popped up, new cafes and restaurants have pushed through those first, hardest days to find themselves successful, and the city has poured money into everything from beautification to making walking trails that hug its historic canals & rivers.
One of the loudest, most positive voices I’ve ever heard has been from Lori Frieden, one of the founders of Copper City Brewing Co. From the get-go she has demanded change in this, the city she calls home. And she’s done it herself wherever she could, always with determination.
Copper City Brewing Co. is going to be the first successful brewery in Rome since prohibition, which stifled a once-booming business. It’s not going to be a bar where you go to drown your sorrows - we’ve had plenty of those over the years. It’s a revival of yet another facet of Rome’s rich history.
It’s going to be one of many, many reasons I’m happy I kept moving back, after all the times I tried to move away.
Now you’re probably wondering “what’s in it for me?”
For one, success for CCBC is success for me. The more this city picks up, the more potential customers come my way. If you’re a friend, do it for me.
There are also the indiegogo perks - if you’re local.
But most importantly I want you to consider what a win for CCBC means for all the other run-down towns trying to pick themselves up.
When things like CCBC succeed, people take notice. Everywhere. And people start to ask the question - if THEY could do it, why can’t we? The Rome of today is itself a product of that line of thinking. Many other towns in our region have failed when the predominant line of work moved away, only to pick themselves back up by redefining themselves instead of lingering on the past.
Rome is SO CLOSE to being one of those success stories. It’s a completely different city than the one we begrudgingly moved to a dozen years ago. Help us push it closer to success. For us, for you, and for beer.