Built Capital – Potsdam, NY

Built Capital can be described as physical structures or institutions, which support the community (Flora & Flora, 2004). The most clear example of this within Potsdam, NY is Clarkson University. Clarkson was established in 1896 with the motto “A Workman That Needeth Not to be Ashamed,” truly representing its founder, a quarry owner and entrepreneur (Clarkson, 2016). Since its establishment, Clarkson has grown its footprint in the town and now is a majority property owner in Potsdam (Kaplan, 2016). Generally, it appears that the built capital of Clarkson University has been beneficial, offering social and cultural enrichment for the community through sporting events and community classes, as well as substantial student volunteers which benefit many aspects of the town. However, its large footprint creates large influence over the town, but also financially burdens members of the community as its tax-exemption status excuses them from paying property taxes (Kaplan, 2016). A recent article stated that 69% of the village properties are exempt from property taxes, placing greater stress on residents who are required to pay these taxes (Kaplan, 2016). However, the lack of property taxes may be outweighed by the funds that it has added to the local economy through (Kaplan, 2016).

It appears that the benefits of Clarkson as a Built Capital may outweigh the negatives, as Clarkson creates an infrastructure for community service and leadership. Aside from the University there are also other examples of strong built capital in the area. The local volunteer fire and rescue service transports patients to the area hospital, Canton-Potsdam Hospital. A great example of the built capital in Potsdam is the affordable housing locations, in place to support the large proportion of residents who live in poverty. As stated in previous posts, about 32% of residents live in poverty, making this a necessary resource for sustainable living (US Dept. of Commerce, 2014).


Clarkson University (2016). About Clarkson: History and Facts. Retrieved from: http://www.clarkson.edu/about/history.html


Flora, J. L. & Flora, C. B. (2004). Retrieved from CDAE102 Lecture Notes, 11/28/2016.


Green, G. P., & Haines, A. (2015). Asset Building and Community Development. Washington, DC: SAGE Publications.


Kaplan, L. (2016). The Majority of This Town’s Property is Tax-Exempt & Some Residents Call Foul. Non-Profit Quarterly. Retrieved from: https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2016/03/29/the-majority-of-this-towns-property-is-tax-exempt-some-residents-call-foul/


U.S. Department of Commerce (2014). Community Facts. Retrieved from http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/community_facts.xhtml