Monday, March 31, 2008

Snow as a Brand

“What would you do with the fact that we get more snow than any other place east of the Rockies?” was one of the many questions I got after my talk in Watertown, NY (population 26,705).

I was there to do the 19th Annual Tug Hill Commission’s Local Government Conference which brings in over 600 local leaders from around the North Country of upstate NY. Now upstate NY to someone from NYC means just north of Westchester County, adjacent to the city, but the North Country is as far north as you can go in the state, right along the St. Lawrence Seaway and just south of Canada.

The North Country covers about 30% of the land area in the state but only has 3% of the people. It is largely an area of very small towns with a dependence upon the natural resources of the region (timber, agriculture, etc.). Many of the towns were some of the earliest mill towns in the country, making use of the virtually free rapidly flowing rivers in the region. However, those days are long gone and now it’s finding alternative sources of jobs and opportunities.

Last year in February, Redfield, NY received 141 inches of snow in one 24 hour period, just barely missing setting a new record for the country. Many of the towns normally get over 20 feet of snow during the winter and the area has become a haven for snowmobilers and other winter enthusiasts.

And, yes having that much snow should be a huge asset for a region. Just as there are enthusiasts for everything from spectator sports to bird watching to hang gliding, there are people who love the snow and being known as the place that gets the most of it should be highlighted not hidden. It could be a wonderful brand!

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