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December 11, 2011

A feather in the North Country's cap

When economies are crumbling across our ocean and across the nation, we are triply blessed.

Partly because of the resilient nature of North Country folk, and partly because of the careful and diligent nature of commerce in Canada, we have remained much less affected by the national and global downturn as have other regions. Our unemployment rate is only a couple of points higher than normal, and we have not nearly the degree of housing foreclosures. New businesses continue to open, only a few close, and farmers are hanging on. Our steadfastness and deep roots have served us well.

This area is also one of great beauty and diversity. I arrived here almost seven years ago from a land that I thought had great beauty and diversity. My adopted home reminds me much of Alaska, in the ruggedness of the land, the tolerance and kindness of the people, and the appreciation for just how lucky we are to live where we do.

However, while North Country residents can be proud of our past, and grateful for our present, we can also be excited about our future. Certainly, others are.

On Thursday, the North Country was ordained to receive one of the largest economic development awards ever granted any region in New York State. In fact, this little "economic engine that could" was named a "best plan" among all regions in the state.

Our North Country Regional Economic Development Council prevailed because it avoided politics and made a simple case. For every one dollar invested by state taxpayers, the private sector anted up another six dollars in the remaking of a sustainable economy.

Anyone reading the original report recognized it was a first-rate effort. I would hope it competed against other first-rate efforts, and I am glad it rose to the top. I have lamented that it needed to make the simplest of cases, while others engaged in pomp and politics. After all, in life you dazzle 'em with brilliance or baffle them with something else. The North Country Regional Economic Development Council clearly took the substance-over-style approach in their presentation, and that made all the difference. After all, when there is so much potential and so much talent in this region, why not play to our strengths?

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