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Oh, SmAlbany!

Daily posts and occasional longer essays about politics, culture, and life in the Capital Region...updated M-F, midmorning

"I write this not as a booster of Albany, which I am, nor an apologist for the city, which I sometimes am, but rather as a person whose imagination has become fused with a single place, and in that place finds all the elements that a man ever needs..." -W. Kennedy, from O Albany!

Boom-town economics!

A few days ago I discussed the economics of erie canal redevelopment. Low and behold, the TU is running a six-part series on the matter. Note the picture on the front page and caption about Oswego's "Harborfest":
The Oswego Harborfest, draws an estimated $15 million in revenues to this struggling port city.
That strikes me as funny because all the SUNY-OSWEGO grads I know consider Harborfest a huge drunken party weekend for college kids and trashy townies. And shouldn't it be a sign that, despite the wonders of "Harborfest," the town is still decribed as "struggling."

Here's the TU description of the canal series of articles:
Times Union reporter Kate Gurnett and photographer Paul Buckowski spent the last year traveling the Erie Canal by boat and car.They visited dozens of towns and locks and talked to scores of people who work, live and play along the waterway.Over the six days, they delve into the issues and questions surrounding the canal's future, and whether its revitalization can improve upstate New York's economy.In their Travelers' Log, written when the canal opened this year, they share the stories of the people they met on their cold and watery journey from Albany to Buffalo.
I continue to find all of this very humorous. I'm fine with a six-part series on the canal. It's an interesting piece of New York and SmAlbany history. But I can answer the question those pose right now: the Erie canal's revitalization might be a nice niche tourist piece of a revitalized upstate econmoy. But let's not pretend it's going to be the centerpiece of upstate redevelopment. That's embarressing. It's like we can't think of anything else. Can't you see the conversations:

How should we improve the economy upstate?

I don't know, but we do have this 170 year old canal sitting here, that's got to be a sign!

I wonder how much revenue they pull in up at Lock 7 off of elementary school field trips. I remember those fondly.
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At 7:10 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said:

I agree with your statement about Harborfest only partially. Yes, it is a drunken time for all of the college kids and townies, but I remember many times my parents driving us up from Syracuse to attend when we were younger. they do get many people from the Syracuse area who are not hicks ;-)    

At 7:19 AM , Blogger Matt said:

Fair enough. I've never been to Harborfest - my only accounts of it are from college students at Oswego, so I probably have a pretty biased source.    

At 8:44 AM , Blogger Charles said:

I am all for the reviatlization of the canal and I am sure that the economic benifits will just about equal the economic burden that the revitalivation will cause.

The only true way to improve the economy Upstate is to lower the damn taxes and outragious workers comp rates. The taxes have already killed off a large percentage of the businesses upstate and those not already dead are leaving to areas where the taxes are lower.

I just purchased a small commercial property in West Virginia. The combined tax load on this property is less that 20% that it is here. Even though the rents are lower there the after tax income is far higher!

I doubt I will ever buy and rehab another building in New York.

How sad.    

At 8:48 AM , Blogger Matt said:

Charles - I agree with your post. It would be great if the canal areas were beattiful tourist locations. I'm all for it. But it's just a non-starter in terms of fixing the economy. Economies run on much more basic things - like production value and, as you point out, tax climate.


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