Forging strong relationships with regional economic-development agencies can be the key to revitalizing Franklin County’s economic picture.
There are millions of dollars in small-business loans and infrastructure funds available as well as a wealth of professional services to tap for support, and county legislators are being urged to lead the way to prosperity.
Hugh Hill, executive director of the Greater Malone Chamber of Commerce and a member of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, urged the County Legislature to reach out now before the area’s economic realities get worse.
“We won’t cure anything shoveling money at these things,” Hill said. “It’s not about the money. It’s about the plan of how we make money.
“We’ve gotten lazy and failed to understand what we have to do. We have to use what we have for where we are.”
Franklin County ranks 61st out of New York’s 62 counties for the lowest per-capita income at $19,807 ahead of the Bronx at $17,575, according to 2010 U.S. Census data.
Essex County ranks 26th with $24,390, and Clinton County ranks 44th at $22,660.
The New York state income average is $30,948, and the United States per-capita income is $27,334.
Franklin County’s unemployment rate in August was 8.2 percent compared to 8.1 percent in Clinton County and 7.0 percent in Essex County, according to the State Department of Labor.
The New York state unemployment rate was 7.5 percent, and the national average was 7.3 percent.
Facing statistics like those and looking at a broader view 25 years into the future means action should be taken now, Hill said.
He said the county’s population will decline 4 percent within 25 years with fewer people providing the tax dollars to keep the economy going.
The anticipated 20 percent decline in those ages 15 to 24 is also a threat since younger persons are the major revenue generators.