NNY Recognized for Unique Intersection of Industries

ALYSSA COUSE

The North Country was recently recognized for the unique intersection of its two largest industries: agriculture and the military. The area received the honor of being named a Great American Defense Community at the Association of Defense Communities National Conference in Washington, D.C. The award was a result of a collaboration between Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County and the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization to bring this effort into the spotlight, quite literally. Association of Defense Communities (ADC) Director of Communications, Grace Marvin, and her camera man, Christopher Wright of Optix Creative, traveled across the country to film a promotional video highlighting the Cornell Small Farms Program Farm Ops project and how local veterans are finding their roots in agriculture. 

    The video featured three local farmer veterans. All three had very unique backgrounds and expertise from their military experiences and all chose use these skills in their next mission: farming. 

    Lee Igo and his wife Denise had lived on several bases throughout the country and despite being from sunny Florida, decided to make the Fort Drum area their permanent home after Lee’s retirement. The Igo’s now have a poultry farm, Igo to the Farm, in Depauville, NY where they raise their beloved birds and sell their eggs to locals. Fort Drum families make the largest portion of Igo to the Farm’s market. 

    Steve Conaway and his wife purchased an old dairy farm in Alexandria Bay, NY to call home after Steve’s retirement from the Army. With countless hours of research on the wine industry, the Conaway’s decided to take a chance on viticulture in the North Country. The Thousand Islands Winery was the first of its kind in the area and now produces about 125,000 gallons of wine a year! With being located near the beautiful Thousand Islands and the international bridge to Canada, the TI Winery is no doubt a tourist destination for locals and visitors alike. 

    Cody Morse had roots in the Fort Drum area from being raised on an organic dairy farm in southern Jefferson County before entering the military. After leaving the Marines and returning home, he connected with his co-founder, then Agbotic Inc. was born. This farm is a true testament to how the entrepreneurial nature of veterans can help them thrive in agriculture. Agbotic Inc. is comprised of a series of high tech greenhouse that allow for perfect growing conditions all year round. Another unique feature is the robotic system that spans the greenhouses and acts as an all-in-one piece of farm equipment that can perform everything from data collection, irrigation, and seeding just to name a few functions. The innovation that originated in a small test greenhouse in the front of the farm property now has expanded to a multi-greenhouse facility with several patents pending. 

    “You take a soldier who is defending the nation and they transition to a career where they then are feeding the nation and in many ways there’s skills that are transferrable there.” says Kevin Jordan, Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County. As many farmers look to transition their farms to the next generation, it is evident that veterans are a viable demographic to help fill that void. With similar values, skillsets, and dedication to bettering the lives of others, farmers and veterans are built from similar molds. 

    Below is the link for the North Country cut of the video that premiered at the Association of Defense Communities National Conference in Washington D.C. Enjoy!  

https://vimeo.com/user13701449/r view/341709149/a87e94e886 

Shapiro Award winner Corriveau lauded as inspirational leader

Mary M. Corriveau, right, speaks with event attendees at the 64th annual Israel A. Shapiro Citizenship Award dinner, Thursday night. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

Mary M. Corriveau, right, speaks with event attendees at the 64th annual Israel A. Shapiro Citizenship Award dinner, Thursday night. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

Former City Manager Mary M. Corriveau spoke about leadership qualities Thursday night after receiving the 64th Israel A. Shapiro Citizenship Award at the Hilton Garden Inn. [Read more…]

January 2016 Cover Story: Economic Outlook

Slow and steady
growth wins the race

OUTLOOK 2016 / MILITARY: A soldier salutes during the presentation of the colors last year in an activation ceremony for the 10th Mountain Division Divarty. As the post avoided major cuts in 2015, Fort Drum officials remain positive that 2016 will be a healthy year for one of region’s top economic sectors. Photo by Amanda Morrison, NNY Business.

OUTLOOK 2016 / MILITARY: A soldier salutes during the presentation of the colors last year in an activation ceremony for the 10th Mountain Division Divarty. As the post avoided major cuts in 2015, Fort Drum officials remain positive that 2016 will be a healthy year for one of region’s top economic sectors. Photo by Amanda Morrison, NNY Business.

Despite a few challenges, experts say the region is on pace for a positive year in 2016. Six sectors of the north country’s economy are ripe with opportunities for growth.

By Karee Magee, NNY Business

A grim fate cast a pall over the north country in early 2015, as federal budget sequestration threatened to cut up to 16,000 personnel from Fort Drum in an effort by the army to trim its active duty force from 490,000 to 450,000 by fiscal year 2017. [Read more…]

Decision on Fort Drum cuts by end of June, garrison commander says

WATERTOWN — The countdown is on: A decision on potential cuts at Fort Drum may be here in a matter of weeks. [Read more…]

Lawmakers in Albany stress importance of Fort Drum during military-themed event

ALBANY — With little certainty on the direction of potential personnel cuts at Fort Drum, words of support for the post came from state Senate lawmakers from beyond the north country. [Read more…]

Fort Drum estimates post’s value at about $1.3 billion, continuing drop; FDRLO says the figure is $1.76 billion

FORT DRUM — New figures from the post and the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization confirm the post carries a sizable, yet reduced, economic value for the north country.

The post estimated that its spending created $1.296 billion in activity, down from $1.416 billion in 2013. [Read more…]

Fort Drum commander rallies community advocates against Army cuts

WATERTOWN — With just about a month before a hearing for advocates of Fort Drum to argue against potential Army cuts, the post’s commander rallied the community’s advocates.

“We can’t afford to take it for granted that Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division will all be here,” Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend said. “We need to let the Army know how important it is.” [Read more…]

Economic Outlook 2015

The long road to recovery is less bumpy

Signs of a still-strengthening economy are starting to percolate as new opportunities across the region are born


Now that the country seems to be making its way out of the Great Recession, most sectors of the economy across the board and across the north country seem to be on an upswing for the coming year.

“If I had to pick a best bet – agriculture,” said Gregory A. Gardner, an assistant professor of business at SUNY Potsdam and a regional authority on Northern New York’s economy. “Especially the wineries and nondairy areas of agriculture. It has the strongest growth rate.”

Mr. Gardner also listed retail, construction and health care as sectors we can expect to see on an uptick, while retail and hospitality have tempered down.

“If I had any sort of bad news, it would be that the U.S. dollar is going to stay very strong, or get even stronger, through 2015,” he said. “That’s going to slow Canadian sales.”

The real wild card will be the military, the one sector dealing the highest impact to the rest.

“If they do move troops out of Fort Drum, that’s going to hurt our economy pretty much across the board,” he said. “There’s a ripple effect. It doesn’t just touch businesses that sell to Fort Drum, but businesses that sell to businesses that sell to Fort Drum. It would ripple through virtually every sector of our economy.” [Read more…]

A staunch advocate: Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization lobbies for post

Carl A. McLaughlin, executive director of the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization, at the post’s Mt. Belvedere Gate near Blask River. Photo by Norm Johnston / NNY Business

Carl A. McLaughlin, executive director of the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization, at the post’s Mt. Belvedere Gate near Blask River. Photo by Norm Johnston / NNY Business

Thirty years after it was announced that the 10th Mountain Division would be reactivated at Fort Drum, an organization that was established to keep open the lines of communication between military and civilian leaders now works to prevent significant troop cuts at the military post. [Read more…]

Not your typical alphabet soup fun

What do you think of when you hear the words “alphabet soup?” The vegetable soup with a floating alphabet? It was always fun to look at the different letters and see what you could spell with them. And before you knew it, the soup was gone. Today, as an adult and working in government, alphabet soup takes on a whole new meaning. [Read more…]