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January 1, 2012

Local successes, national failures

The year 2011 was profound in its successes on the local level combined with failures nationally and internationally.

While one might conclude from the past year that politics should begin and end at home, I believe a more subtle lesson can be gleaned.

This past year was simply a continuation of some less-than-stellar years since 2008. While some economists insist that the Great Recession ended in 2009, this conclusion defies common sense. As defined, a recession ends when GDP stops declining. This definition would conclude that trouble ends when floodwaters are no longer rising, even if we are six feet under water.

Clearly, the economy remains in peril, both nationally and internationally. We remain a long way to restored wealth, jobs and political common sense.

However, the rising tide that left our economy underwater did not prevent some from floating to the top. The North Country has fared better than many other areas, thanks in no small part to a natural resourcefulness and resilience within our local economy. New businesses have started up, and some have gone, housing prices have dropped, but not by nearly as much as elsewhere, and we have not lost hope that a large, new opportunity will finally present itself.

Meanwhile, this region was blessed with an investment in our economy unprecedented since the expansion of Plattsburgh Air Force Base.

It will be interesting to see how the Regional Economic Development Council's plan will play out. While I have lamented that it is not a plan of the same sort of detail one would presume were the investment purely private, it was the best plan in competition with others from across the state.

It attests to one thing. A thoughtful and visionary local leadership can best divine what a local economy needs. The council's model was a sensible approach that pooled taxpayer money from all regions and used it to unleash the potential best able to adapt, innovate and grow.

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