I recently attended two very informative meetings, that could provide a peek into the future of the Park’s economy. The first meeting was that of the Regional Economic Council, one of 10 councils put in place by Gov. Cuomo, covering seven north counties in New York. The second meeting was held last week, convened by New York Sen. Betty Little to open a dialog between agricultural concerns and the Adirondack Park Agency.
The Regional Economic Council in working toward a Nov. 4 deadline to present their comprehensive plan for the region is holding public sessions for local input and provide further explanation of their intended purpose. At the Elizabethtown meeting, several local folks pointed out issues and concerns most of which were already on the council’s radar. One speaker, Ken Tucker, brought forth a concept that bears further consideration. After leaving the Adirondacks for employment in Oregon, Tucker has returned with an idea worth pursuit.
During his time in Oregon, Tucker witnessed the recent growth of Craft Brewing in Oregon. Today a 2.4 billion dollar industry employing nearly 5,000 Oregonians, micro-brewing has found its place in America’s love for beer. Sighting our nine trillion gallons of “pure blue gold” natural water resources, ecology friendly industry that would fit nicely inside the 9,300 square miles park, seventh lowest state excise tax on brewing and adding to the regions already strong tourist attractions, the Craft-Brewing Industry certainly deserves further pursuit.
Tucker hopes to pursue investor commitments to fund developing Adirondack jobs in the craft brewing segments of nano-brewers, brew pubs, restaurant breweries, micro-brewers, regional brewers and local farmers as well as attracting domestic and international brewers to the region. His goal would be to see the industry well rooted by the year 2025 and to replicate the movement in Oregon.
The other idea that holds great potential for our region was the center of discussion at a forum on agriculture. Spurred on by outspoken local farmer Sandy Lewis was the need for, not only a state-of-the-art local slaughter house, but an educational resource to be used as a model for organic raised meat products and processing. Lewis’ Essex Farm was recently certified an organic grass-fed farm — the only such certification ever awarded by the USDA.
While Lewis boasted the benefits of eating organic, grass-fed beef, he was joined by many other local farms who share his concern regarding the local slaughter house. For local farmers who want to produce more than just the need of their own personal consumption, a nearby slaughter house is a must. Combine that concern with the interest in pursuing more organically raise livestock and a local modern slaughter house is at the center of the priority needs list.
All the farmers at the meeting expressed a concern for properly trained personnel at the slaughter house as well as the proper conditions being observed to control the livestock in a manner keeping with investment made by the farmer. With the proper protocol the organic animals would be serviced first, then after a sanitizing process, the grain fed animals would to taken last.
A slaughter house in the Park would go a long way to bringing back family farms and make them sustainable enterprises, resulting in a stronger economy and would be in a position to serve the many metropolitan areas in the northeast. In addition to meat products, if properly managed and marketed, the balance of the animal would not go to waste. Markets exist for the by-products such as hides, hooves and organs that in their own right could create spin off opportunities for even further growth.
At the root of any opportunity are people with passion and a vision, willing to take on the risk and seek a different path than taken by most. Mr. Tucker and Mr. Lewis exemplify the spirit of American entrepreneurs who see what could be and accept the challenge of creating change. The Adirondack economy is in serious need of securing a sustainable opportunity for the people who live here. Both these ideas deserve not only full consideration but our support and encouragement. Both these ideas fit perfectly in keeping with the park’s resources and at a time when society is overly focused on technology growth there will always be a need for farming, quality food, drink and relaxation.
Opportunity is knocking. Do we have the courage and the will to answer the call or will we be content with the status quo blaming others for our lack of a stable economy in the Adirondack Park?
Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.