The Economic Engines that Could

It’s no secret that I am bullish about our beautiful Hudson Valley and passionate about ensuring that the very things we love about our region —  the family farms, rich history, cultural treasures and spectacular natural resources — become the engines for an economically and environmentally sustainable future for our region. I have been repeating this mantra for several years now, but I think it’s finally catching on.

In fact, just this week, several events in the region provided further evidence that these assets are indeed key to the future of the Hudson Valley.

In the course of one day I found myself at: 1) The Hudson Valley Beer, Wine & Spirits Summit 2.0 at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, which brought together more than 400 industry leaders and business owners; 2) A press conference for the DSC00322release of a report “The Economic Importance of Great Estates Historic Sites and Parks,” commissioned by the Taconic Region of the NY State Office of Parks;  and 3) ARTS Mid-Hudson’s Dutchess County Executive’s Arts Awards which recognized a diverse group of local artists and patrons before an audience of 200 plus people, the largest crowd ever for this annual event.

The takeaway from all these events is the enormous economic potential of those very Hudson Valley things we love. Richard Ball, NYS Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets, speaking at the C.I.A. summit, said, “We need to connect the dots between the upstate farms and the largest appetite in the country in New York City. The energy in this industry is incredible and it has never had a better relationship with Albany.”

In the same vein, the Great Estates study, which looked at the impact of 12 federal, state and private historic sites along the Hudson (most of which lie within the 106th Assembly District, I’m proud to say), identified some $65 million in economic benefit from these historic sites to Dutchess County alone. Several years ago, Olana, the state historic site in Columbia County which includes the home of Hudson River painter Frederick Church amidst stunning grounds and viewsheds, reported supporting 267 jobs and an economic impact of $7.9 million.  And another recent report on Dutchess arts and culture found local arts organizations have a $28.5 million impact on the economy.

All of this translates to $4 billion spent by tourists who come to the Hudson Valley to discover the treasure trove of riches — food, drink, history, culture,  natural beauty, outdoor activities, charming villages, stunning viewsheds, and on and on — that those of us fortunate enough to live and work here can enjoy all year round. Furthermore, all those numbers are primed to grow!

About Diner Dialogues

Didi Barrett was elected to the New York State Assembly in a special election in March 2012 and re-elected to a full term in November 2012. Her district, the 106th AD, covers some of the most beautiful parts of Columbia and Dutchess Counties. She has deep roots in the Hudson Valley and came to elected office after a career as a community activist, writer and longtime leader of not-for-profit organizations. Didi is passionate about the agricultural, natural, cultural and historic resources of the Hudson Valley and their critical importance as economic engines and job generators. She is also a great fan of the iconic diners that dot the region. As a member of the Assembly she serves on the Committees on Aging; Agriculture; Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry; Mental Health; Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development and Veterans Affairs.
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