ANCA report details investment opportunities

SARANAC LAKE — The Adirondack North Country Association announced that it is releasing economic and investment data on the North Country to the public at its 2018 Annual Meeting on Friday.

ANCA Executive Director Kate Fish, while working on the Regional Economic Development Council for the North Country, was given access to long-term economic data in the process of applying for $500 million grant from the state for the North Country region.

“We could kind of see, ‘Where are the big growth opportunities? If we got this 500 million dollars, then where would we invest it?'” Fish said.

In the end, the North Country didn’t get the grant, but the data still proved valuable. Working with the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship and LOCUS Impact Investing, ANCA endeavored to fine-tune the data to with the aim of “sharing promising investment scenarios for the region.”

The data revealed that the population of the North Country is growing, though not uniformly.

“There’s county-level variation. For example, Saratoga is growing, but Hamilton is not,” Fish said. “We’re losing a really, really key component of the population, the 24-to-34-year-olds.”

Exceptions to this trend occur in areas with colleges.

In addition, the North Country is above the national average in adults aged 45 to 59.

“We have, compared to the U.S., a lot more old people, the Silent Generation,” Fish said. “And getting more and more silent by the day. Quite a few more baby boomers. Fewer millennials. And way fewer young kids.” This is a trend that Fish said ANCA intends to work towards fixing.

Labor earnings are making up a declining share of regionwide income, as an increasing amount of the population rely on money from Social Security and other forms of retirement income.

Though overall, “income and earnings are improving in the region,” Fish said.

The report also identified three job sectors with the most significant potential for investment and growth: tourism, manufacturing, and local food and agriculture — “though we’re talking about niche crafting manufacturing here,” Fish said.

Fish said the report showed two overarching themes. The first is “The Silver Tsunami, you know the aging baby boomers, which we’re starting to address hopefully.” Fish said ANCA is focusing economic programs on providing assistance to aging business owners.

The second is that the same elements which attract retirees attract millennials — “the cool coffee shop, the brewery, the cultural assets,” Fish said.

Fish said ANCA will release county-specific data to interested parties in the near future.

ANCA is a nonprofit economic development organization that focuses solely on the North Country. It works with individuals and networks of New York businesses to offer programs like “Ignite!” which works to crowdfund private businesses, and “Farm to Food” initiatives which connect school districts to local food suppliers.