Ulster County has seen a rise in job growth over the past few years, with unemployment rate at 5.6 percent, compared to the national average of 6.3 percent, and household income over $5,000 greater than federal numbers.
Sprawling farms, small local stores and artistry shops form a wide base of Ulster County economy, and some of these humble businesses profit from people traveling from downstate and all over the world to catch some hometown charm.
Small town friendliness can go a long way in maintaining strong business relationships, and people will remember how they felt during their consumer experience.
According to Hector Rodriguez, Ulster County Legislature District No. 20, town and village governments recognize the small businesses that thrive in good customer relations, and promote those types of businesses that fit the local area. Rodriguez said you won’t find poultry processing plants in Ulster County, for example, because they don’t support the ethical and environmental standards that many community members and business leaders pride on.
“We’ve always striven to be business-friendly, and have strong traditions to help local businesses with financial support,” Rodriguez said. “We work with the state to fund those businesses.”
One of the regional industries that help with providing sufficient funds to smaller companies is the IDA, the Industrial Development Agency, that utilizes federal revenue bonds for large construction projects and can issue payment in lieu of tax agreements.
Dean Fabiano, Chairman of Public Works and Capital Projects Committee, has also overseen steady growth in motels and houses within the larger construction industry. Other projects include recently built education buildings on the SUNY New Paltz campus and Marist College.
New buildings and businesses can contribute to healthy monetary flow during tourism seasons. Rodriguez said that people who come from downstate as well as further away are the ‘bread and butter of our economy.’
While having seasonal customers is beneficial for many businesses, this also proves risky due to travel conditions, such as weather which can determine a road trip or flight to purchase local products.
Local officials try to create framework for building a successful economy regardless of the tourist season, but anything such as national inflation, poor weather conditions that affect farming, outdated means of technology used in production process can affect business success and consumer spending. Taxes that take chunks of change out of paychecks seem to add to the dilemma, but officials can decide to use portions of taxes to fund jobs that benefit the community, such as infrastructure work.
Despite uncontrollable factors that can impede job growth, there are means to keep up the positive gains.
“…I would probably say we continue to have jobs available for folks… sometimes it’s a very specific skill set, but there’s always something,” Rodriguez said.
Future job growth is expected to increase to 36.9 percent over the next decade, and with the recession waning from its peak, there’s more opportunities ahead for the Ulster worker.