If you missed last week’s debate at the economic development symposium on the Northern Forest region at the Rockefeller Institute in Albany, you can see it the way it happened on YouTube here. The discussion featured Adirondack Council Executive Director Brian L. Houseal; Todd Shimkus of the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce and Joe Short of the Northern Forest Center in New Hampshire.
The Northern Forest is a 70-million-acre swath of very big forests and very small towns ranging from Tug Hill, eastward through the Adirondack Park, northern Vermont, northern New Hampshire and to the coast of Maine.
Here is a note we received from John Sheehan, Director of Communications of The Adirondack Council regarding his responses to the attacks by the local chamber of commerce’s politically outspoken Todd Shimkus (a pdf of his remarks is here):
Shimkus blames the Adirondack Park Agency and the environmental organizations of the Adirondacks, with their paid communications directors (I think that means me) for destroying the Adirondack economy. I found this odd for two reasons.
One, the communities of the Adirondack Park are actually doing much better financially and sociologically than similar rural areas outside the Park. Income, education level, percentage of home ownership, percentage of business ownership, debt/income ratios, sustainable property values, property tax rates, etc., are all better inside the Park than they are outside. If anything, this proves that land-use regulation helps the economy.
Two, Shimkus’s claim that the Park Agency has failed to develop regional economic plans and incentives is just bizarre. This was never the APA’s mission. It is a land-use regulating agency with some minor public-resource planning authority. Economic planning is, however, the core mission of chambers of commerce. Yet the four-state economic study and recommendations discussed at the symposium were the work product of the Northern Forest Center, which is supported mainly by environmental organizations. The Adirondack Council is a founding member of the center and the Northern Forest Alliance.