The Hudson Valley Region is a study in contrasts. We are a region of densely populated urban areas with business and commercial centers, Fortune 500 companies, and world-class medical and educational centers contrasted with sparsely populated rural communities with one-block long charming downtown business districts and centralized school districts that house kindergarten through 12th grade in one building. We are a region with pockets of great wealth and a region with pockets of deep poverty.
We rise from just above sea level at Rye in Westchester along the shores of Long Island Sound to 4,108 feet above sea level at the top of Slide Mountain in Shandaken in Ulster County.
We are a region teeming with history – Washington’s headquarters, FDR’s home, West Point, Boscobel, Mohonk Mountain House, the D&H canal, the site of the original Woodstock Festival and 300 year old stone houses in some of the earliest settlements in the United States.
Our most significant asset is water- the seven counties that comprise the Hudson Valley Region supply drinking water to more than 20 million people in the New York Metropolitan area, Philadelphia, and Trenton , as well as taking care of our own communities.
The watersheds east and west of the Hudson River and Delaware River Watershed along our western boundary with Pennsylvania are priceless assets for our region.
In places, the land is rugged, steep, wooded and inhospitable. Several mountain systems dominate on both sides of the Hudson, The Catskills on the west side and the Hudson Highlands/Taconic Ranges on the east. The Shawangunk Ridge slices through the region with the white stone cliffs on one end and the Basherkill Wetlands at the other. Our collective ethos is to preserve - we have tens of thousands of acres of protected park lands and trails including the historic Appalachian Trail.
Tourism is one of the engines that drive our economy. Our region has always been a playground for the New York City metropolitan area population from the early days of the railroad and the birth of the “Borscht Belt” and Dry Fly-fishing in the US. Now our green mountains and fresh air provide “green” alternatives for urbanites: hiking, biking, fishing, boating, camping, and watching the stars. Restoration of an old railroad bridge over the Hudson River took on new significance as a major tourist draw when the “Walkway over the Hudson” opened several years ago. Star watching was reinvented when the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, a world class entertainment venue opened at the site of the original Woodstock Festival in Bethel, NY. Now locals and visitors can enjoy entertainment such as The New York Philharmonic, Tony Bennett, and Elton John under the stars in Sullivan County. The Woodbury Commons Outlet Mall, in Lower Orange County is one of the top 10 tourist’s draws in the State of NY bringing busloads of tourists every day.
Agriculture is an important component in our economy. In places, the land is rich and lush with black dirt farms that grow wonderful onions and vegetables. There are new generations of farming entrepreneurs in organic and niche farming, developing value added products such as cheeses, artisan breads, wines and yogurts – all designed to take a product to the markets in NYC. The Hudson River valley is lined with apple farms, gnarled old trees laden with sweet red apples. The grape arbors nourish a growing wine industry and an emerging micro–brewery industry in the region has promise. Dairy farms, beef cattle farms, poultry and eggs farms and wonderful horse farms complete the agricultural picture. Protecting the agricultural component can be challenging, the lands become a valuable asset for future development. There is also pressure for natural gas mining in certain corners of the region. With our history of preservation and the importance of water, not only for us but for those depend on our water; this issue is of paramount importance.
We are a major transportation corridor, on any given day in center of the region one can see freight trains, passenger trains, cargo ships, barges, passenger planes, military planes, fishing boats, and thousands of cars and trucks on our network of major highways, bridges and rivers all connecting the world and the New York metro area to the Hudson Valley.
Business and Industry dominate the landscape along our border with the New York City metropolitan area. We are home to international corporations - IBM, Pepsico, ITT and Kawasaki. Our region's economy is closely linked to the NYC economy, so the Hudson Valley often shares the pain experienced in NYC.
The Hudson Valley’s greatest asset is its largest regional cluster, that of Education and Knowledge Creation. Not only is this a significant cluster in establishments (more than 30 post-secondary educational institutions in Westchester alone) but it is an employment cluster as well. That strength and the trained workforce to support it will be a major factor in the regions recovery from the economic downturn.
The Hudson Valley is rich in natural beauty and physical assets, yet there is poverty here. The economic recession has had a negative impact on the valley, leaving many unemployed, record numbers of foreclosures, large drops in home values, record numbers of business closures and empty office spaces. While there are positive signs of a slow recovery, the Hudson Valley, like most of the country is still feeling the economic downturn of the late 2000’s. We are fortunate in that we have the existing infrastructure and are in a better “shovel ready” position for recovery than some areas in the country.