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Center for Community Studies Releases Findings of 3rd Biennial Regional Economic Tracking Survey

The third biennial regional economic tracking survey, conducted by Jefferson Community College’s Center for Community Studies and sponsored by the Development Authority of the North Country, is complete.

The survey measures economic-related attitude and behavior information in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. The 2017 survey looked at the local economy, entrepreneurship, support for local government consolidation, passenger air service, internet access, health care access and employment. The Development Authority provided financial support for the survey as an element of its regional economic development planning activities, in partnership with the three counties.

Highlights of the study include:

  • The top three economic development priorities identified are the more “traditional” efforts: retaining existing businesses, attracting new business and training and workforce skills. All were rated important or very important by 98 percent, 97 percent and 96 percent respectively, by those interviewed.
  • Residents are generally more satisfied with their local air passenger service, particularly in St. Lawrence County, where the number of those reporting satisfaction is 64 percent, up significantly from 46 percent in 2015. In Jefferson County, 9 percent less people are flying from outside the county.
  • In Lewis County, 16 percent of the survey respondents said they own a business – more than either of the other two counties – and of those, 82 percent own a home-based business.
  • Regionally, there is strong support for exploration of local government consolidation opportunities if they could save taxpayers money.
  • Regionally, 7 percent more people report they are employed full-time than two years ago, yet many unemployed are not trying to find a job (63 percent in Jefferson County, 57 percent in St. Lawrence County).
  • The top challenges facing business owners in the region are taxes, labor and benefit costs, and government regulation, with 42 percent in St. Lawrence County also reporting broadband access as a continuing challenge.

“This study generates a tremendous amount of data that can be used as a tool by economic developers throughout the region,” said James W. Wright, Executive Director of the Development Authority of the North Country. “We are pleased to be able to work with our county IDA partners to develop questions that provide the kind of information they need to enhance their efforts.”

Joel F. LaLone, Research Director at the Center for Community Studies indicates that, “The Biennial Regional Economic Tracking survey is a tremendous example of our mission at the Center – a partnership between the College and leaders in the North Country to investigate important issues, and provide data to drive their decisions. In this case the partnership is specifically with leaders in economic development, clearly an issue that impacts the quality of life of local citizens, and an issue that consistently ranks high among local residents when asked to identify the largest issue facing residents during our county-specific quality-of-life surveys completed annually. North Country residents are encouraged to review the entire final report for the study at our website, and feel free to contact us with any further questions."