Posts Tagged ‘economics’

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Small Business Basics Offered in Hamilton County

The Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the Indian Lake Community Planning Committee and Indian Lake Central School to host three upcoming seminars to assist local small businesses and entrepreneurs in either expanding a current business or starting a new one.

Each session will address a different aspect of a business: feasibility, knowledge and skills for running a successful business, and financing available for starting or expanding a business. The seminars are geared toward anyone who would like to start their own business, or wants to improve their existing business practices.

“Small Business Basics”, or what to do before putting up your ‘Open for Business Sign,’ will be held on Tuesday, April 24, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Participants will learn how to determine if a business idea is feasible, and if it would be profitable.

Karen Stehlin, Regional Director, North Country Small Business Development Center, SUNY Plattsburgh, will lead attendees in an understanding of the rewards, opportunities and challenges of being a business owner. The program will be held at Indian Lake Central School. Pre-registration is required; call the Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce at (518) 648-5112.

Additional business planning and financial sessions will be held in May and June. Visit www.indian-lake.com for additional information.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Adirondack Council: Revise Development Rules

The Adirondack Council is calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NYS Legislature to make sweeping changes to the rules for private land use and development in the Adirondack Park.

“The current rules for development are too weak and outdated to protect the park’s pure waters, wildlife and unbroken forests,” said the Adirondack Council Executive Director Brian L. Houseal said in a statement issued last week. “Conservation science and smart growth principles have advanced a great deal since 1971. Unfortunately, the Adirondack Park Agency’s regulations have not.”

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) was created by Governor Nelson Rockefeller in 1971, after resort development and the construction of an interstate highway (I-87) through the Adirondacks prompted a public call to protect the park. None of those rules has been amended since 1978, when several were weakened, the Council asserts, adding that “a recent resort review illustrated why the rules need attention.” » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Historic Properties Workshop in Saranac Lake

North Country homeowners are invited to attend a meeting to find out how they can save money while making repairs to their older homes. The Preservation League of New York State will present a workshop in Saranac Lake to help homeowners take advantage of a tax credit for repairs to older buildings. Historic Saranac Lake is sponsoring the workshop, which is expected to draw participants from around the region.

The workshop will be held on Tuesday, March 13 at the Saranac Laboratory Museum, 89 Church Street. During the workshop, which runs from 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., staff from the Preservation League will review the basic guidelines of the program and answer questions about the application process for homeowners. Information will also be available for owners of commercial properties.

The cost for the workshop is $5, and refreshments will be provided. Reservations are required as seating is limited. Please RSVP by calling 891-4606 or by email at [email protected]

The New York State Historic Homeowner Tax Credit Program will cover 20% of qualified rehabilitation costs of owner-occupied historic houses, up to a credit value of $50,000.

“This is the perfect time to finally fix that leaking roof, or repair drafty windows,” said Jay DiLorenzo, president of the Preservation League of New York State. “This tax credit can help homeowners provide safer and healthier homes for their families, and protect the investments of business owners for years to come.”

This program requires that the building be individually listed in the State or National Register of Historic Places, or in a listed historic district. Additionally, the building must be located in a qualifying census tract, and at least $5,000 must be spent on the project.

“We are thrilled to help spread news of the tax credit” said Amy Catania, Executive Director of Historic Saranac Lake. “Our organization nominated over 170 historic properties to the National Register some thirty years ago. These buildings are an important part of the special history of our community, and the tax credit will help fund the care that these historic buildings deserve.”

Historic Saranac Lake is working now to add more cure cottages to the National Register. Cure cottage owners who are interested in pursuing National Register status are also welcome to attend the workshop.

To find out if a building is eligible, go online or contact Sloane Bullough at the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation at 518-237-8643, ext. 3252. Eligibility information will also be available at the workshops.

Photo: A cure cottage in the Highland Park Historic District on Park Avenue, Saranac Lake. Photo courtesy Wikipedia.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Study: Environmental Protection Fund Builds NY Economy

New York’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) supports industries that generate approximately $40 billion annually for the State’s economy and sustain hundreds of thousands of jobs, according to a recent analysis.

The report, prepared by The Trust for Public Land (a national conservation organization) in collaboration with the New York Environmental Leaders Group, concludes that the EPF generates jobs, supports local economies, and elevates property values. The analysis also concludes that for every $1 invested to protect lands under EPF, $7 in economic benefits is returned to New York through “natural goods and services,” such as filtering air and water of pollutants, and flood control. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Civil War: North Country Volunteers, Bounties, and the Draft

While reviewing some Civil War materials, I encountered mention of the New York City Draft Riots, which reminded me of my own experience with the draft back in the late 1960s. Whether there was a war or not, I had no interest in joining the military, but it was out of my hands. Vietnam was getting worse instead of better, and more troops were being sent. When I became eligible to go, America switched to the draft lottery.

While I was still in high school, my number (based on birthdays) came up in the 200s, so I didn’t have to go unless I enlisted. That wasn’t the case for men aged 18–45 during the Civil War. They had options, and not being drafted was one of them.

Few people realize that a draft of sorts was used even in the 1700s, a century before the Civil War, and that it was very similar in nature. The call for troops emanated from a central authority, whether it was the Continental Congress, or later, the President (or the Secretary of War).

Across the land, the order was funneled down to the county and town levels, where volunteers were sought. If a town’s quota wasn’t filled by men joining of their own volition, bounties (bonuses) were introduced: the government, the local municipality, or private citizens offered money to entice recruits.

People learned quickly not to volunteer, but instead waited for bounties to become available (like today’s signing bonus). Why join for free when incentives would surely be offered? Thus, bonuses eventually became standard for enlistees.

In 1863, when President Lincoln called for 300,000 troops, every Congressional District in the North had to meet their quota. If you were healthy and were among those called, you had several options provided by federal law: pay a substitute to take your place; pay a commutation fee of $300, enabling you to avoid service; or join the fight.

During that particular call for troops, New York State citizens were offered financial enticements (bounties) that were hard to resist for the average struggling family. In all, bonuses from the county, state, and feds brought the ante to more than $700 per man (over $12,000 in 2012).

Substitutes received the same financial benefits as volunteers, and were also officially listed as “volunteers,” even though they were solicited, recruited, and paid to join the army.

Although the cause was noble, the great pride felt by many Northern states for providing volunteers to preserve the nation was not based entirely in honorable intentions. One reason that so many enlisted was because of the bonuses. It was better to take the financial incentives rather than risk being drafted, which carried with it no bonus pay at all.

Truth be told, the reaction to the draft in the 1860s was typical. A small minority of men (but still numbering in the thousands) opted for draft dodging: many went West, or paid an extended visit to Canada. For that reason, the President made it a crime for any draft-eligible man to leave his state (or the country), a remarkably deep incursion into personal liberty in a nation that so valued freedom for all (unless you were Black, of course). The travel restriction was lifted only after a region’s soldier quota was met.

The majority reacted typically as well, enlisting to take advantage of the financial incentives rather than risk being drafted. As Lincoln himself said, the intent of the draft was not to force men to join, but to increase the number of enlistees (“volunteers”). It mattered not if soldiers were substitutes paid to enlist by either the original draftee or the government.

Though individuals could avoid military service by hiring substitutes or paying a fee, entire counties (dozens of them) took action to avoid the draft for its citizens. Among them in New York was Rensselaer County, which put up $75,000 as bounty (bonus) money, and St. Lawrence County, which took it much further, appropriating more than a half million dollars.

Bonds were sold to finance the plan, backed by St. Lawrence County property valued at more than $15 million. An agent was hired, tasked with the job of recruiting through widespread advertising, and then paying the amounts promised to the “volunteers.”

The process also served another purpose: saving counties the embarrassment of failing to muster enough volunteers to battle for America’s existence. If an outright draft became necessary (forcing men to fight), it might cause others to question Northern citizens’ patriotism.

There were also many private draft agents who were unscrupulous, reaping small fortunes by charging high fees for recruitment of replacement soldiers. Those who weren’t poor willingly parted with substantial cash to avoid joining the battle.

Besides commutation fees and substitutes, there was one other avenue open to those seeking to avoid military service: medical exemption. The government issued an official list of 41 health concerns (complete with detailed levels of disease and disability) that would excuse men from the draft.

Prospective but unwilling warriors perused the list for any symptom, real or imagined, that might save them from service. Doctors reported a surge in self-mutilation (unexplained loss of fingers, toes, and teeth).

The list of exemptive health problems covered the obvious, including insanity, epilepsy, cancer, heart disease, missing limbs, severe skin problems, and more. Others were less common and perhaps surprising: stammering (if excessive, and if proven by evidence under oath); loss of a sufficient number of teeth to prevent mastication of food; a grossly protruding abdomen; and excessive obesity.

Another was cringe-worthy enough that I, for one, would have enlisted with enthusiasm: incontinence. Mild enough, sure, but talk about incentives: the only requirement for proof was “introduction of a metallic catheter.” That would have sent me sprinting to the recruiter’s office.

Another affliction qualifying for exemption was “retracted testicles,” but with the rejoinder, “voluntary retraction does not exempt.” Puzzling enough on its own, it also begs the question: “So this happened enough to merit an entry in the Surgeon General’s manual?”

Photos: Civil War recruiting posters included bounty incentives.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Peter Brinkley: The Adirondack Brand

What follows is a guest essay by Peter Brinkley who lives in Jay and is Senior Partner of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve. This essay was prompted in part by new Almanack contributor Kimberly Rielly’s piece “Understanding the Adirondack Brand“.

We hear of the need for businesses in the Adirondacks to develop a universal brand to attract tourists.

This impulse indeed is strange. The Adirondacks has enjoyed a brand since the second half of the 1800s, one which has broadened and deepened its appeal. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Home Energy Retrofit Workshop Now Online

ADKCAP, The Wild Center’s Adirondack Climate and Energy Action Plan, recently hosted a sold-out workshop to contractors, code officials and homeowners about key steps to retrofitting your home. If you missed the workshop or if you just want to refresh your memory, videos of the workshop are now available online.

Martin Holladay, a Green Building Advisor, noted in August 2009, “To achieve the carbon reductions needed to prevent a global ecological catastrophe, almost every house in North America will need a deep energy retrofit.”

So-called ‘deep energy retrofits’ can achieve 70 – 75% reduction in energy use over the more traditional retrofits that typically see a 5 – 15% energy use reduction. Greg Pedrick, Project Manager for NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) in the Building R&D Sector, led the workshop using four residential buildings that underwent deep energy retrofits coupled with the typical homeowner initiated projects such as window, siding and/or roofing replacements to substantially improve the building envelope as examples. The training presented billing data before and after the work was completed, as well as costs of the work involved. Pedrick is an engaging speaker and makes the information understandable to a wide audience.

“This work is inspiring, because everyday people can do it, and it does not require Senate hearings, Judge decisions or EPA rulings, to enable it to happen,” said Pedrick. “Just tenacity and willingness to work hard, and salvage what you have.”

Pedrick hopes this training will:

Provide independent/step function solution to dependence on fuel, which is typically NOT a local commodity

Improve overall air quality, health and well-being of both the building and the inhabitants

Create work force opportunities to improve existing housing stock, while reducing energy use

“In the U.S. homes are the most defective products consumers purchase,” according to Tedd Benson, of BensonWood Timber Framing and keynote speaker at The Wild Center/ADKCAP Build a Greener Adirondacks EXPO in April 2011. “Consumer Reports found a 15% serious defect rate in new homes studied, and an Orlando Sentinel investigation, found a more than 80% serious defect rate in new homes analyzed.”

“This type of training, and the online videos we created for those who missed the workshop, helps and inspires both the homeowner and the contractors in our region with the real hands-on information they can put to work immediately using standard construction skills. The Wild Center and its ADKCAP/CEEM (Community Energy Efficiency Management) project aim to provide practical ideas about sustainability and environment-friendly economic approaches,” said Stephanie Ratcliffe, Executive Director of The Wild Center. “At the end of the day it is the little and big changes that we all make that add up to real change. What I enjoy most about this aspect of our work is that it helps the planet and saves money over time.”

The Wild Center has modeled – through its “green” facilities, educational programming, and conferences – how science museums can help to disseminate environmental solutions. For example, buildings use an estimated 30% of energy in the United States, thus increasing green building design and retrofits has huge potential for economic savings and job development. The Wild Center is Silver LEED certified for its green buildings and educates visitors through a tour of its green design on site and online through its website.

ADKCAP is a partnership of The Wild Center and 30 other institutions in the region. ADKCAP works through existing organizations around the region to implement a proactive strategy to enable the Adirondacks, approximately 20% of the land area of New York State, to improve energy and cost savings within the region. To heat and power itself the region currently uses more than 46 million gallons of fuel oil and LPG, and 925 million kWh of electricity annually, draining $263 million a year from struggling economies of the region. Investing in local efficiency helps to keep that money in the region. The Adirondacks are nevertheless a model of conservation for the nation and are positioned to lead in establishing a “green” economy.

ADKCAP’s Community Energy Efficiency Management (CEEM) project, which co-sponsored this event, is working to support the Towns of Moriah, Schroon Lake, and Long Lake to inventory energy use of municipally-owned structures, transportation & residential buildings, make a plan to identify and prioritize energy saving opportunities, explore financing options, implement energy saving projects, and track energy savings. The “deep retrofit” model has been shared widely in the Adirondack region through CEEM.

For more information visit www.adkcap.org.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Adirondack Destinations and Social Media

Ah, the transition to a new year. To many, it means participating in the frenzy of shopping and cooking and parties that mark the season. To me, it also means that I’ve got a couple of weeks to finalize plans for 2012, and to reflect on the previous twelve months while “business as usual” takes a break.

That reflection, I should mention, is somewhat involuntary, as I am required to submit final communication department reports. But, like those piano lessons I hated taking as a kid, I’m glad now that I was forced to do it.

The stats and activities that I’ve aggregated are interesting and exciting. But in reviewing them, I realized just how much my role as a communications professional in the tourism industry has changed over the years.

I’ve been fortunate to have had a front row seat as the destination marketing industry has navigated the relatively swift and dramatic evolution of communications technology. In fact, I have worked for the Visitors Bureau for so many years that I remember editing, and in some cases designing, the very first iterations of our Adirondack destination websites – back when websites and the Internet were not yet adopted by general consumer markets.

In the early 1990’s, we were still prioritizing the development, promotion and distribution of printed brochures to reach potential visitors. Marketing efforts concentrated on lead generation by placing TV and magazine ads to solicit contact information from potential visitors, which were fulfilled by sending those printed brochures via snail mail.

In those years, communications and public relations efforts included writing traditional press releases to send by both snail mail and email to local and travel media. Greater priority was given to developing relationships with targeted media with the objective of gaining exposure in appropriate print publications and broadcast outlets. At that time, traditional media, whether it was National Geographic Traveler magazine or the Albany Times Union travel section, wielded great power over destinations who were eager to be featured in their publications, as editorial exposure would garner credibility and third-party validation.

Though I’m sure other industries have seen its benefits (wink), the Internet seems to have been tailor-made for tourism promotion. The first versions of our region websites, including our flagship lakeplacid.com, were launched in 1996. Now, over 90 percent of all travel research is conducted online, and it is incumbent to Destination Marketing Organizations to keep up with the latest online strategies for search engine optimization and other techniques to make sure that our destinations remain competitive.

And then, there was social media. Talk about leveling the playing field; the surge of social media has forever changed the communications landscape, and represents a welcome addition to the destination marketing toolbox.

I began a concerted effort to include social media in our overall communications strategy in late 2008. That’s when I developed our first Facebook page for Lake Placid, and delved into photo contests and the like in order to generate leads and show a return on the investment of my time.

Though it too, has evolved as the world now embraces online news consumption, public relations still holds a place in our day-to-day communications. I still write and distribute news releases – online of course. And I spend a lot of time fielding requests year-round, providing statistics, history, events, story lines, photos and other Adirondack destination resources for general and travel media. Proactively, though, we concentrate our traditional media efforts on a few target markets that represent our feeder markets – within a day’s drive from our rubber tire destinations.

We’re still in transition, but one could argue that in the current marketplace, there is increased value in editorial exposure such as “readers survey results” published in traditional media, versus an article written by a travel writer that is perceived to have been hosted, wined and dined by the resort.

I now allocate most of my department resources to developing descriptive, blog and online news content for our destination websites to gain search engine optimization, lead generation and direct bookings. We then distribute that content via direct emails, online advertising, and social networking mechanisms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Perhaps the most important social networking activity for me is not only creating and distributing content, but monitoring and reacting to content posted by visitors, residents and yes, even the media, about our destinations.

This affects tourism-related businesses in a huge way. It’s not just blogs and Tweets; the existence of online rating mechanisms such as Yelp and TripAdvisor, it is absolutely crucial for owners to listen, engage and respond effectively to the conversations about their businesses.

Global publishing power now lies in every person’s pocket. Blogs, comments, videos and Tweets have viral potential, and this content is all available 24-hours a day, and can be accessed anywhere from increasingly prevalent mobile phones and tablets.

The result of this transition is huge: third-party validation doesn’t come from the traditional media, it comes from your customers.

As we enter a new calendar year, I’m looking forward to the unforeseen challenges that will surely appear as we navigate this new communications paradigm. For now though, report complete, I’ll take advantage of this little break. Right after I post this blog and send a few Tweets.

Kimberly Rielly is the director of communications for the Lake Placid CVB/Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Finance Workshop to Assist Forest Owners

With timber prices at historic lows, tax bills to be paid and the real estate market languishing, many owners of forest land are having a hard time making their woodlands pay their own way. The decisions involved can be anguishing, especially for those whose families have owned their land for several generations.

On January 14, 2012, a team of industry and academic experts will outline a businesslike approach to managing family forest lands that can help landowners save money and perhaps find new sources of income from their woodlots.

The workshop, titled “Forest Finance 2012,” will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Great Escape Lodge on Route 9 in Lake George. However, preregistration is required in order to attend.

Topics to be discussed will include income and property tax strategies, estate planning, business and bookkeeping practices for woodland owners, and forest management systems. Speakers will include Eric Carlson, president of Empire State Forest Products Association, Dr. Steven Bick of Northeast Forests, LLC, and author, and Dr. Shorna Broussard Allred of Cornell University.

The session is sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extensions, Warren County, The New York Forest Owners Association – Southern Adirondack chapter, the Forest Stewardship Program of Protect the Adirondacks!, and New York Tree Farm.

The registration charge is $25 for this all-day session on Saturday, January 14, 2012 – including lunch. Preregistration is required by calling Cornell Cooperative Extension at 518-623-3291 or 518-668-4881 or email: [email protected]


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Locally Funded Albany Ice Rink Draws Fire

A plan to spend $100,000 to fund free ice skating in the City of Albany is drawing the ire of a local Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) workers who have been without a contract for nearly three years.

“CSEA workers at Gore, Whiteface, and the other Olympic facilities have spent the last three years without a contract making wages commensurate to the working poor,” says a mailing that arrived in local mailboxes this week from the Civil Service Employees’ Association (CSEA), the union that represents ORDA workers. “As they struggle to support their families here in the North Country the ORDA CEO Ted Blazer is spending $100,000 for an ice skating rink in the City of Albany!” » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Full Details of Adirondack Economic Development Grants

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that the North Country Regional Council Strategic Plan will be awarded a $40 million bonus to fund economic development, one of four regions sop awarded. The complete North Country regional plan includes 70 projects totaling $103.2 million in state support. A number of additional projects were funded through the Mohawk Valley and Capital District regional councils which could also impact residents of the Adirondack region.

According to a statement released by the Governor’s Office, the North Country Regional Council Strategic Plan is designed as a long-term roadmap “to attract private investment, promote and facilitate connectivity between communities, and create a climate that will allow entrepreneurs to flourish. It put forth ways to achieve its vision by capitalizing on the region’s natural assets, talented labor pool, and entrepreneurial population.”

The projects are expected to focus on high-tech and traditional manufacturing, green energy production, agriculture, tourism, and arts and culture. Included are a number of large grants:

$9.9 million will rehabilitate the Newton Falls Rail Project to rehabilitate, reopening the 46 mile Newton Falls Rail Line. This project will service the paper mill at Newton Falls and the operations at Benson Mines.

$900,000 will support improvements to the Village of Gouverneur water distribution system in support of the Kinney Drugs Distribution warehouse.

$4 million will support the development of community rental housing in the area of Fort Drum.

$3 million will support the construction of the new Clayton Hotel along the St. Lawrence River.

$397,000 will restore the 1924 Strand Theatre to the Strand Performing Arts Center in downtown Plattsburgh.

$2.5 million will support the expansion of Bombardier’s plant in Plattsburgh. The project includes a 57,000 square foot increase of the main plant, a 2,100 square foot expansion at the off-site testing facility, and electrification of an additional half mile of railroad track at the test facility.

$1.8 million will expand C Speed’s manufacturing center in Potsdam.

$1.2 million will support modernization new hiring at Saranac Lake’s Trudeau Institute research campus.

$472,000 will be provided to Frontier Communications to increase Hamilton County broadband access. This project is expected to install fiber optic broadband service to several communities that currently have no existing broadband capacity.

A full list of funded projects is available online [pdf]. Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties can be found in the Capital Region section; Fulton, Herkimer and Oneida counties are in the Mohawk Valley region; Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Lewis and St. Lawrence are in the North Country Council.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Lawrence Gooley: Occupy Movement History Lessons

A major issue of the day is the concentration of great wealth in the hands of a few. By its very nature, great wealth confers great power, and we all know what absolute power does. Today’s media bombards us with the fact that the concentration of wealth has skyrocketed in recent years, which once again reminds us, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” We’ve been here many, many times before.

Why are the “experts” not looking to the past? This concentration of wealth in America is not a recent, nor even a 20th-century, phenomenon. The following citations would fit perfectly on any CNN, Fox, or other broadcast, but their dates of origin might surprise you. (The headline above is from 1891.)

This first commentary sounds like it was voiced by an Occupy Wall Street spokesperson: “We want more light on these great social and economic questions. The people must be made to understand that when the property and wealth of a country is controlled by a small fraction of the people, popular self-government is no longer possible in that country. … When the time arrives in this free land when great wealth will be regarded as a paramount qualification for office, the end of American liberty is not far distant. We will then have a government of classes and oligarchies, in which the struggle for official position will not be between the rich and the poor … but between the wealthy classes alone, and in that struggle, caucuses and elections will be a farce, for the man with the largest bank account will be a predestined winner from the start. Capitalists themselves should be taught that … the preservation of the government … and the perpetuation of their own exertions … depend upon a happy, contented people, and that people are most happy and contented where the results of labor (wealth) are as evenly distributed as the circumstances and conditions of men will permit.” (1882)

Here are several others from different eras, but with similar concerns:

“And the constant tendency of the rich to use their wealth for the acquisition of influence and political power … of all the modern schemes of employing wealth, that of banking possesses the most attraction. Wealth … is in itself an element of power, and consequently an unequal distribution of property has a constant tendency to disturb that equality in the social condition of the community, which is the basis and support of equality of rights. But to incorporate wealth is to impart to it many attributes of power not belonging to it when … in the hands of individuals. … The large amount of wealth possessed by corporations is controlled by a few persons.” (1835)

“That the sub-Treasury scheme, now under consideration in the senate of the US, is calculated to create an alarming moneyed aristocracy, consisting of men in power … is not only opposed to the principles of a republican government, but is hostile to the interests of the people.” (1838)

“Sir, the shocking abuse of the banking which pervades the land … it is only by radical change of their conduct that they can ever regain the public confidence. … The honorable senator from Virginia … asks us to [again] place the public funds in them, after their recent breach of faith, their violation of all law, their outrages upon the monies of the nation, as well as upon the deposits of individuals, committed to their safekeeping. … They now look to a single and splendid government, founded in banks and other monied institutions …” (1838)

“The alarming tendency in this country is to the accumulation of capital in a few hands. The increase of wealth in the country is not over 5 percent per annum, while the interest in capital is nearly 10 percent. Consequently, the rich are growing richer and the poor poorer. … class against class, poor against rich, labor against capital. The interests of the two seem to be diverging more and more from year to year.” (1872)

“… the concentration of wealth represented by the gigantic moneyed corporations of the country, which seemed to grasp without resistance all power … and which threatened the destruction of the liberties and institutions of this country. … It controlled the press; it swallowed up legislative assemblies; it dictated its will and its purpose in public assemblies; and wherever it appeared, it seemed to be and indeed was without a rival in power, and without a limit in its purpose.” (1873)

“The great financial institutions of the country have been … largely allowed to direct the financial policy of the government. The strong arm of Wall Street has reached to Washington, and its heavy hand has been felt in our national councils. … wealth incalculable and ever increasing … placed in the hands of very few men … is not something wrong in that state of things which produces such unhappy results? … No wonder the workingmen of our country are in a state of unrest, and are groping around to find out how it is that when the land is filled with wealth, their lot is so cheerless and hard, and that such vast disparities in fortune exist …” (1886)

“The swift growth of large fortunes is the … cause of the impoverishment and the degradation of the masses. A great fortune is like a great snowball which boys roll down a hill on a mild day in winter, and which grows bigger and leaves bare a wider swath at every turn.” (1887)

“… the times which try men’s souls are here once more. European and American capitalists have bound the country in chains. The declaration of independence from British arrogance needs to be supplemented by a declaration of independence from the powers of concentrated wealth.” (1891)

“No manipulation of money can cure the evil of the concentration of wealth in a few hands, as it is not the cause. …After the Civil War, there were two millionaires in the US, and now there are 7000 such men, and one-half of the wealth of the people is in possession of 30,000 men.” [4% of the population] (1891)

William J. Stone, ex-governor of Missouri, commenting on the idle rich who possess wealth, but do no work and create no product: “When those who produce least, acquire most; when mere absorbers become the rulers; there is something essentially wrong in social and economic conditions. The enormous concentration of wealth which has taken place during the last thirty years has raised up a moneyed class in this country. …This is not only a moneyed class, but to a large extent, it is also a nonproductive class, for its wealth is represented mainly by investments in public and corporate securities in mortgages on real estate and manufacturing plants and in the stocks of banks and similar institutions. This colossal accumulation of wealth in a few hands is of itself a startling thing to contemplate. Patrick Henry, the great orator of the Revolution, once said, ‘We can only judge the future by the past.’ Look at the past. When the great empires fell, ownership of wealth had consolidated to a tiny fraction of the population. When Egypt fell, 2 percent of the population owned 97 percent of the wealth … in Persia, 1 percent … in Babylon, 2 percent … in Rome, a fraction of a percent owned all the known world.” (1898)

From the book Who Owns the United States by Sereno S. Pratt: “One twelfth of the estimated wealth of the United States is represented at the meeting of the board of directors of the US Steel Corporation when they are all present. The 24 directors are: Rockefeller, Morgan … They represent as influential directors more than 200 other companies. These companies operate nearly one-half of the railroad mileage of the US … plus Standard Oil, International Harvester, GE, Pullman, International Mercantile Marine, US Realty and Construction, American Linseed … the leading telegraph systems … banks, insurance companies, express companies …” (1903)

From the Foreword in Dynastic America and Those Who Control It by Henry H. Klein: This book proves that wealth is concentrated. History records that the decline of civilization in a nation begins with wealth concentration. Dynastic Europe is dead, but the dynasties in America flourish. Theirs is the power of life and death over the whole human race.” (1921)

If things are ever going to change, those who mobilize need to know what has gone before. Those in power know that change has been attempted many times. When they recognize history repeating itself, they need only guide the movement in the same direction from years past in order to maintain the status quo.

Photo Top: Newspaper headline, 1891.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kimberly Rielly: Understanding The Adirondack Brand

What does ‘Adirondacks’ mean to potential visitors?

There continues to be much discussion throughout the region centering around the topic of the Adirondack “brand”. As the destination marketing organization for a huge chunk of the Adirondacks, I thought we’d chime in, too. And we bring good news! There is clear evidence that “Adirondacks” does, indeed, mean something to potential visitors.

The basic premise of the various comments is that the Adirondacks need a consolidated brand to compete in the marketplace with established brand concepts like those that exist for Vermont and Maine.

We wholeheartedly agree.

The word brand is an overused term and is usually confused in general discourse as being just a tagline. A brand is not a tagline. And tourism promotion doesn’t create brand. Rather, a brand is what your customers think it is. Your product’s brand promise must be based on customer input, and you must be able to deliver on that brand promise. (Disney World does not promote itself as “Sin City”, and Coca Cola doesn’t promote itself as a remedy for sleep deprivation, as they can’t deliver on those promises.) As such, a destination’s brand IS the visitors’ experience and perception of that experience.

But a consolidated brand for the Adirondacks is not as simple as that.

Why are all of Lake Placid’s businesses promoting themselves instead of just promoting Lake Placid? Why are all of the Adirondack towns and villages, from Lake George to Old Forge, promoting themselves instead of marketing the Adirondacks? (For that matter, why are the Thousand Islands, Adirondack and Finger Lakes regions promoting themselves instead of just marketing New York State?)

We say it all the time in promotional materials; “the Adirondack region is a patchwork of public and private land”. Economically, the region is also a patchwork of public municipalities and private businesses. And they all compete for market share – it’s the American free enterprise system. That’s not going to change.

If we, as marketers, “owned” everything inside the blue line, we could force everyone to adhere to the Adirondacks’ brand guidelines, and police all use of the approved logo and messaging that reflects the customer experience. But this isn’t Disney World. The Adirondack region as a whole is only treated as one entity from a regulatory standpoint; by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). Otherwise, it is, indeed fragmented into separate delineations for counties, and various New York State agencies with multiple regions, including DEC, DOT, Parks and Recreation, ESD, etc. Each of the many agencies’ and municipalities’ jurisdictions are split into inconsistent, overlapping sizes and shapes within the region, including the lines that designate the I Love New York Adirondack Region for tourism promotion.

Yes, there is one entity that promotes the entire region. The Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (ARTC) is a consortium of seven counties that share resources to promote economic development through destination marketing. Each of the counties in the region pool their granted New York State I Love New York program funds, which are mandated to be used to market the Adirondacks collectively. The ARTC promotes the Adirondack Region as a destination with targeted campaigns in our feeder markets along the I87 and I90 corridors, driving leads generation through the region’s umbrella website, visitadirondacks.com, and toll free numbers.

And there’s evidence that the Adirondacks DOES mean something to potential visitors. We know from a Visitor/Market Opportunity Analysis that was conducted in 2008 that the Adirondack attributes – the unique mix of mountains and lakes and rivers, and the outdoor recreational activities they offer – are the primary driver of visitation to the region. And in a recent study conducted by Cornell University School of Hotel Administration for I Love New York that included a survey of consumers interested in traveling to New York State, respondents are more familiar with the tourism regions than with cities and counties. And, the Adirondacks ranked third in a list of 42 regions, cities and counties (behind New York City and Greater Niagara) as a location with which respondents are familiar.

That demonstrates pretty strong brand awareness.

Despite the market recognition, there remain barriers to success. Although we still can’t force every restaurant and tackle shop to adhere to one, coordinated Adirondack branding message, there is strength in numbers.

We should work toward diminishing the lines that splinter the region, so that the Adirondacks within the Blue Line are clearly defined by all state agencies as one region and that we recognize that environmental protection can increase economic vitality. If the current pieces that comprise the Adirondack region’s fragmented puzzle were one, complete picture, it would go a long way toward achieving a consolidated, cohesive approach to hamlet revitalization and sustainable tourism.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to promote our destinations as we have been; by promoting unique Adirondack experiences, and tying them all to the Adirondack name. Turns out, it means more than you might think.

FYI: If you haven’t seen the ARTC promotions, it’s because you’re not in our target market! View a sample 30-second TV spot on YouTube.

Kimberly Rielly is the director of communications for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Repeating Past History: The Occupy Movement

Despite the wisdom of elders and some noted quotations (“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it”), we are often caught up in another axiom that defines insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” When I was much younger, both of those ideas impressed me as I read books about French Indochina and France’s miserable, lengthy, disastrous attempt to rule, particularly in Vietnam.

It fueled my anti-war sentiment when the US decided to ignore the past and repeat the mistakes of the French. After another decade of slaughter, the results were the same. It struck me recently that “Occupy Wall Street” should read pertinent history to avoid the results of the past.

If you follow the media stories covering today’s movement (the 99 percent vs. 1 percent), you’ve heard about this new idea that the extreme wealth and corporate greed of the 1 percent should have limits. Likewise, you’ve heard claims from those favoring the 1 percent that by trying to raise taxes on the rich, the 99ers are waging class warfare against our wealthiest citizens.

Clearly, these are all new ideas resulting from a situation like no other. However …

If you enjoy history, you’ll probably enjoy this headline from 105 years ago, appearing in The New York Times of January 6, 1907: “The Country’s Wealth: Is 99 percent of it in the Hands of 1 percent of the People.” Similar stories appeared in many other publications.

What happened then is happening again today: supporters of the 99ers are speaking out on behalf of the unemployed, the underemployed, the underpaid, and the poor, while the other position is defended by those who feed off the 1 percent and must serve as their bullhorn. And, as usual, the 1 percent itself remains largely silent, content to have others speak out for them.

As for those siding with the 1 percent, who have declared the Occupy Wall Street movement as class warfare against the wealthy—it’s certainly a novel idea, right? These three quotations support that premise.

On the side of the 99: “The cry of class warfare was raised against us by the government and wealthy classes, as pure propaganda, in the hope of enlisting sympathy of the public against labor.”

On the side of the 1 percent, regarding tax loopholes for the wealthy: “… to collect the taxes, the administration now seeks to attack the rich and the thrifty … This becomes part and parcel of the class warfare which has been waged … to gain popular favor with the masses…”

And finally, against the 99, portrayed variously as troublemakers, lazy, shifty, drug abusing, etc.: “A peculiarity of all professional agitators of class warfare in the United States is their personal aversion to toil. Many of them never did a day’s work at manual labor. They know no more about the working people of America than a pig knows about Christmas, yet profess to be the tireless champions of the working class … and have hit upon a plan for feathering their nests without ever laying an egg. They just cackle and collect.”

Those who are involved in today’s issues would be well served by researching protests of years past, which might prepare them for arguments made against the movement. Read the three quotations again, and consider that they came from 1920, 1937, and 1949, respectively, but could just as well have been uttered by any number of talking heads who ramble on in today’s media, especially the day-long “news” shows.

Perhaps by knowing the questions that have been asked so many times in the past, and the answers that were given, there might be the possibility for change.

But for observers who look at history to see what has gone before us, it’s hard not to subscribe to another famous axiom: “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” General translation: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Photo Top: NY Times headline, January 6, 1907.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Phil Brown: USGS Streamgages Under Threat

One of the more amazing statistics to emerge from Tropical Storm Irene was that the East Branch of the Ausable crested at 18.43 feet in Ausable Forks—three feet higher than the previous record and more than eleven feet above flood stage. The river’s flow peaked at fifty thousand cubic feet per second, a hundred times greater than normal.

Just a few months after the record storm, the U.S. Geological Survey is warning that it will be forced to discontinue most of the streamgages in the Lake Champlain basin on March 1 unless funding can be found to keep them going.

Throughout New York State, the USGS plans to discontinue thirty-one gages, including nine in or near the Adirondack Park. (The USGS uses the spelling “gages” rather than “gauges.”)

The gage that measured the record crest on the East Branch of the Ausable is not on the chopping block, not yet anyway. However, one nearby that is at risk has been in operation for more than eighty years, longer than any of other gages scheduled to be discontinued.

“We’ve got eighty-two years of records at this site. It is important for determining how flows are changing over time,” said Ward Freeman, director of the USGS New York Water Science Center in Troy. The center’s website contains real-time data from rivers throughout the state.

Streamgages measure the height and flow of rivers. Data are used to predict floods, calculate nutrient pollution, assess conditions for paddling, and determine when it’s appropriate to put lampricide in tributaries of Lake Champlain.

John Sheehan, spokesman for the Adirondack Council, warned that without stream data, riverside communities will find it more difficult to protect themselves. “We won’t know what the changes in a river’s height and volume are, and as a result we can’t plan for flooding events,” he said.

In the past, many gages were funded through congressional earmarks, but lawmakers eliminated the earmarks a few years ago to save money, Freeman said. He added that the USGS needs $134,000 to keep the nine North Country gauges operational. (Each gage costs about $15,000 a year to operate and maintain.)

Eight of the gages are on rivers that feed Lake Champlain. Besides the Ausable, they are the Great Chazy, Little Ausable, Salmon, Boquet, Mettawee, and Putnam Creek. The ninth is on a narrow part of Lake Champlain itself near Whitehall.

Gages on another dozen rivers in Vermont that feed Lake Champlain also are scheduled to be shut down. Four others were discontinued in October.

This year, USGS was able to keep the gages on Lake Champlain tributaries running only after obtaining financial assistance from the Lake Champlain Basin Program. Freeman said he hopes the Lake Champlain organization and other interested parties can come up with money again.

“We’re going to do all we can to save these gages,” Freeman said.

Eric Howe, a technical coordinator for the basin program, said the non-profit organization will do everything it can to keep the gages operational, but it’s too early to tell if the group will have enough funds. Last year it spent about $150,000 to keep the gages running.

“The gages were extremely important during Tropical Storm Irene,” Howe said. “They helped us see what the tributaries were doing in the flooding.”

Thanks to a gage on the Winooski River, he said, farmers were able to round up volunteers to harvest crops in advance of floods.

Freeman is asking those willing to contribute funding for the gages to call him or Rob Breault at 518-285-5658 or email [email protected]

Click here to read the Adirondack Explorer’s comprehensive coverage of Tropical Storm Irene.

Photo by Ken Aaron: a high-water line near Ausable Forks.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.



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