May 20, 2021 Northern Saratoga Towns Release Report on Opportunities for Growth and Investment
Four Northern Saratoga County towns that, like many rural communities have experienced population losses, now have a unique opportunity to attract new residents weary of urban life who prefer a quiet, rural community that combines the splendor of the Adirondacks with world-class cultural, business, health care and educational amenities nearby.
“Hadley, Day, Edinburg and Corinth are located in the Adirondack foothills of Northwest Saratoga County, an area of extraordinary natural beauty, reasonable housing and living costs and practically limitless opportunities for outdoor recreation and enjoyment,” according to a new report. “Residents of the four Northern Saratoga County communities enjoy the best of both worlds – rural living with easily accessible urban amenities like brew pubs, ethnic restaurants, libraries, theaters, book shops and coffee houses.” Within a reasonable driving distance are employment opportunities with some of the most innovative companies in the world, part of the Capital Region’s growing tech sector, as well as in major hospitals and colleges. Similarly, cultural amenities such as the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the national racing and dance museums, Proctors Theater, The Hyde Collection and Caffe Lena are but a short drive away.
And when residents of the four communities return home, “it is to a peaceful community where a place to fish, walk in the woods, relax around a campfire or take a quick spin on a snowmobile is often right out the back door,” the report said. Entitled “Building Communities: Attracting Residents to Saratoga’s Adirondacks,” the report was commissioned by the four towns in conjunction with the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership and funded by an economic development grant from the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors.
It was prepared by Behan Communications Inc. The charge was to assess the communities’ strengths and challenges and identify an approach to reaching people who might be interested in relocating now that working remotely has gained wide acceptance. Community leaders have been concerned about maintaining their populations and a healthy balance of younger and more senior residents in order to support their public schools, local businesses, volunteer fire departments and rescue squads and other essential community services.
The report found that the communities already are home to an increasing number of small businesses, recreational entrepreneurs and artisans, the foundation of a microeconomy on which to build, and that prospective buyers are showing increased interest in local real estate.
While embracing the benefits of modest growth, local residents and leaders expressed a strong desire to preserve the rural, natural character of the communities as the essential asset that attracts and retains people. “We both had such a draw to the woods and did not want to raise a family in a concrete jungle,” said Kerry Hanlon who with her husband Matthew moved their art restoration business from New York City to Hadley.
Local leaders also emphasized the benefit of creating comfortable and secure housing options for seniors so that they could sell their residences to new families while remaining in the community near family and friends. Expanded opportunities for affordable, high-quality child-care also is important to allow more parents to work outside the home.
The report also acknowledges the challenges the communities face, especially in ensuring reliable broadband service for adults working at home, children learning at home, and people seeking telehealth care but noted the increasing local, state and federal support to improve rural cell and internet service.
The report offers 10 recommendations, including undertaking a community identity campaign with the theme, “Saratoga’s Adirondacks: On the Edge of Everything.” Other recommendations include creating regional co-working and creator spaces with strong internet and cell service and engaging in direct outreach to the Capital Region’s major employers like GlobalFoundries, Regeneron, GE, RPI, and SUNY Polytechnic.
Supervisor Arthur (Mo) Wright of Hadley said that by working together the four towns complement each other’s strengths. “We each bring something to the table, and it makes us all stronger because of this intermunicipal collaboration,” he said.
Edinburg Supervisor Jean Raymond said focusing on attracting individuals, couples and families who appreciate the rural Adirondack lifestyle will help enhance the long-term success of each community. “Our region offers spectacular year-round recreational activities while still being within an easy, and beautiful, drive of hundreds of employment and career opportunities,” she said.
Preston Allen, Supervisor of Day, said the communities can learn important lessons from people who live in or have already moved to the area and have launched successful recreational enterprises and other small businesses. “We would like to tap in to the wisdom and experience of our local business people to see what we can do to help them and others like them grow.”
Supervisor Richard Lucia of Corinth said the four towns now have what may be the best opportunity in recent history to help longtime residents age in place while attracting new people who will help build the economy and add vibrancy to the community. “I hope this report will help people see what we know: These communities are gems waiting to be discovered.’’
“There are tremendous benefits in regional strategic partnerships, and these four communities are showing how to leverage each other’s strengths to reach people who are considering relocating and would love the lifestyle of Saratoga’s Adirondacks,” said Shelby Schneider, president of Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership.