What’s growing? Where should we invest? The Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) and regional partners set out to answer these and other questions facing North Country communities by completing an economic analysis of the entire 14-county Adirondack North Country region.
One refrain I have heard from Adirondack leaders through the years is that declining school enrollments across the Adirondacks, with particular emphasis on the closures of the Piseco School and Lake Clear School, show the overall decline of the Adirondacks as a viable social and economic region. Blaming environmental policies immediately follows these statements. I have always argued back that there are many factors that affect school enrollment levels and that the changes afoot in the Adirondacks are far less severe than the changes that are transforming vast portions of Rural America. » Continue Reading.
On average workers born in 1942 earned as much or more over their careers than any worker born since, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research’s 2017 Niber Working Paper. From 1967, the Middle class’ share of income has dropped from 53.5 percent to about 45 percent today. Ninety percent of metro regions have seen a decline in the middle class while on average incomes in rural America has declined to a much greater degree.
Ever wonder why the middle class is declining in our country, what’s the ramifications, and what can be done about it on a national level and here in the Adirondacks? New York Times bestselling author Peter Kiernan asked the same question, and decided to delve into the issue, and report on what he learned in his new book American Mojo Lost and Found: Restoring our Middle Class. Thanks to the Lake Placid Institute, its board member Ellen McMillin, and her husband John, Kiernan was persuaded to present Saturday morning, July 14, at the Institute’s Adirondack Roundtable. » Continue Reading.
One of the most striking maps coming out of the 2016 Presidential election is the red-blue county map. Despite Clinton winning the popular vote by 3 million, the county map shows a sea of red across the U.S. as Trump won 2,632 counties and the country is flecked with blue dots in the interior and on the coasts where Hillary Clinton won 489 counties. In our part of New York, Trump swept everything north of the Mohawk River with the lone exception of Clinton County. He won Lewis, Hamilton, Fulton, and Herkimer counties by wide margins. Having poured over maps of Rural and Urban America in the last few years, the interesting thing to me is that the 2016 Trump victory map tracks closely to the rural-urban divide in the U.S. » Continue Reading.
The US Census 2017 population estimates are out and 11 of the 12 Adirondack counties lost population. These estimates are based on samples and are not the comprehensive decennial censuses based on extensive surveys and counts. The next one is 2020. Nevertheless, the estimates are useful and in 2017 they show that 11 Adirondack counties are estimated to have lost a total of 16,263 people. These 11 counties started 2010 with a combined population of around 800,000 and dropped 16,000 to 784,000.
When we add Saratoga County to the mix of Adirondack counties, the results change somewhat. Saratoga was the only one of the 12 Adirondack counties projected to have grown, jumping by over 9,000, from 220,000 to 229,000 in those years. When we look at the total population of the 12 Adirondack counties, we see a net drop of over 6,000, from 1.02 million to 1.014 million. » Continue Reading.
In 2015, Old Forge native Tyler Socash decided to take the money he had been saving for a car and spend it on something more experiential: three long-distance hiking trips.
Starting in August, he ended up hiking seven thousand miles as he finished the Pacific Crest Trail, Te-araroa (Long Pathway) in New Zealand, and the Appalachian Trail. After the yearlong trip, the thirty-year-old came home to the Adirondacks, where he returned to a former employer, the Adirondack Mountain Club, as a wilderness trip leader. » Continue Reading.
As the community foundation of the Adirondack region, we spend a lot of time in the community. Lately, we’ve noticed a promising trend: more and more young people are visiting the Tri-Lakes, and some of them are starting to move here to open up businesses or join the workforce. Sure, it’s anecdotal – but sometimes you have to trust what you’re seeing.
We commend the Tri-Lakes Young Professionals (TLYP) for convening the young people who’ve decided to make the Adirondacks their home, and for building a network that keeps growing by the day. » Continue Reading.
At the conference on Adirondack demographics recently held in Albany (described last week by Pete Nelson), there were some familiar faces and some familiar facts. And there were also some familiar but unsupportable conclusions.
The speakers reminded us of two main demographic trends: First, the average age in Adirondack towns is going up. And second, the number of school-aged children in Adirondack school districts is declining. These numbers are not in dispute. They are derived from unimpeachable research conducted by the Center for Applied Demographics at Cornell University (CAD). They suggest a serious challenge to the welfare of our friends and neighbors who live and work in Adirondack towns. » Continue Reading.
I have always felt that there were three prevailing dispositions towards statistics: professional – by those who know how to use statistics and do so legitimately; political – by those who use (or typically misuse) them for propaganda; and cynics. Cynics have an attitude toward statistics best captured by the aphorism popularized by Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” » Continue Reading.
Peter Bauer recently ran a post reviewing a report that college-educated young people are leaving rural areas in droves for “close-in” living in cities where economic opportunities, cultural amenities and entertainment options far exceed their native communities. Bauer described this as a subset of a larger dynamic, namely the decades-long global trend toward urbanization. At the conclusion of the article he asked leaders of the Park to “understand these dynamics and to develop strategies for ways to tap into these larger trends.”
Adirondack leaders and residents alike have been aware of these trends for a long time, living both population decline and gentrification of their communities as personal experiences. But while the fact of these changes is unquestionable, Bauer is right in his call: the full dynamics are not that well understood here in the Park. » Continue Reading.
Communities throughout the Adirondack Park, upstate New York and much of rural America are confronting aging and declining populations, a lack of year-round jobs, limited affordable housing and shrinking school enrollments.
The Town of Lake George faces many if not all of those challenges. Unlike most communities, though, it’s developing a strategy to address them.
At the end of September, the Town’s Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee and its consultant, the Chazen Companies, held a four-day community-wide charrette at the Fort William Henry Conference Center and the Town Hall. » Continue Reading.
Drive through Lake George, and you can see evidence that tourism is booming. Traffic is heavy, especially in summer when Lake George runs full-throttle. There are plans for a major hotel and a reinvention of downtown that includes an easing of building-height restrictions. A wave of construction is underway, with new shops, outlet malls, restaurants, and attractions.
“We’re extremely fortunate in the Adirondacks that our principal industry is tourism,” says Lake George Mayor Robert Blais. “No smokestacks, no getting up in the morning and reading the paper and finding out [the major employer] is going to close in six months. We’re part of the picture I think of the great Adirondack Park where families can come and find so many things to do.”
Lake George isn’t alone. Other thriving tourism towns, such as Lake Placid and Old Forge, have seen an increase in visitors, often drawing travelers year-round. In addition, a second tier of resort communities, including Inlet, Keene, North Creek, Saranac Lake, and Schroon Lake, seem to be enjoying the fruits of a visitor-based economy.
Economic data for specific towns are hard to come by, but a 2012 state report found that tourism accounts for roughly 12.4 percent of jobs inside the Adirondack Park, roughly thirteen thousand positions altogether. And in a 2013 progress report, the North Country Regional Economic Development Council says Essex County experienced an increase of 9 percent in visitors from 2012.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has made tourism development in the region one of his top priorities, launching a new ad campaign—including TV and radio spots and banners on New York City buses—while also establishing a new $2 million revolving loan fund to foster investment inside the Blue Line. “It’s not just about fun,” Cuomo said during a visit to the Adirondacks in March. “It’s about economic development and jobs.”
Recent pieces (here and here) in the Adirondack Almanack stressed the importance of placing the Adirondack Park experience and condition in a national context, especially with the rest of rural America. National context is important when trying to ascertain trends in Adirondack Park demographics, economics or land use.
This past weekend, The New York Times data-crunching blog The Upshot published an interactive map that ranked the 3,135 counties in the U.S. by how hard or easy these places are to live. The indicators they chose to create this ease or hardship ranking were median income, unemployment, percent of population with a college degree, disability rate, obesity and life expectancy. The Upshot said these metrics were selected due to the availability of county level data across the U.S., which provided a profile of economic and public health conditions. Disability was not used as a health indicator, but as a data point for the non-working adult population, which was used in conjunction with unemployment. » Continue Reading.
Visitors to the region were drawn by outdoor recreation, preferred hotel accommodations to other types of lodging, and spent $93 for every occupancy tax dollar spent on marketing in 2013, according to the latest leisure travel information study.
For the eleventh year in a row, the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST) contracted an independent third party to conduct a Leisure Travel Information Study. For the last three years, ROOST engaged PlaceMaking to conduct the survey applying the same methodology as in the previous years when it was conducted by the Technical Assistance Center at SUNY Plattsburgh. Survey data from 2013 visitors show record visitation to Essex County from across the decade of this research. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Almanack's contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The Almanack is the online news journal of Adirondack Explorer. Both are nonprofits supported by contributors, readers, and advertisers, and devoted to exploring, protecting, and unifying the Adirondack Park.
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