Broadband Provides Big Opportunities for Tiny Population in New York

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Hamilton County, located in New York’s Adirondack Park, has the lowest population density east of the Mississippi at 4,800 people dispersed over 1,700 square miles – and has seen its population decrease by 10 percent over the past decade. It is counting on a broadband build-out that started this month to help reverse that trend.

“Access to broadband will allow telecommuters and web-based businesses to live and work where their hearts are,” states Ann Melious, County Director of Economic Development and Tourism. “The county is hoping to attract entrepreneurs and artisans who can transport their jobs with them.”

Hamilton County is currently served by DSL and dial-up service at speeds of less than 1 mg.

The six million-acre Adirondack Park is the largest state park in the contiguous United States, and unlike other US parks, it is a patchwork of private and public lands. While public access to dozens of lakes and hundreds of miles of hiking, skiing and snowmobile trails attracts visitors and seasonal home owners, permanent residents have found it difficult to make a living. There are no large employers and tourism employment has lagged as waterfront resorts are sold to become private estates.

Despite this, Melious believes that Hamilton County’s scenic beauty, recreational opportunities, low taxes, high teacher to student ratio in primary and secondary schools throughout the Hamilton County School District, as well as near non-existent crime are all good reasons for families to relocate.

Home to the nationally acclaimed Adirondack Museum, as well as an active arts center, Hamilton County recently launched a lifestyle and relocation website, to highlight the benefits of living and working in the Adirondacks.

A website that helps people find telework or on-site work in the Adirondack Park,, was created by a private investor and the Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce this year. Companies from inside and outside of the park have made commitments to post jobs on the site.

“The local IDA (Industrial Development Agency) offers low-cost loans for small businesses, and New York’s Regional Economic Development Council structure makes it possible for medium-sized businesses to find support,” Melious states. The current broadband project is possible due to a grant approved by the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.

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