It's been a while since I've been able to take a vacation outside of Fulton and Montgomery counties to experience the hospitality of other regions. I used to be quite the traveler, but these days I have been busy and have not had the chance to go beyond our borders, so I decided to take a few days and take a trip to the Atlantic coast.
Now, as chamber president, I have always espoused the many advantages of locating or expanding a business within our region. With the tens of millions of potential customers within a 300-mile radius, markets in Boston, New York City, northern New Jersey and Canada, several seaports close by and I-87 and I-90 very accessible, from a business standpoint, our location couldn't be better.
Well, I did start this column on a personal note, about my mini vacation to the sea. All too often, I hear people say that they can't wait to retire to the south, they're just sick of the Northeast because of the cold, nothing to do, taxes, etc. On many occasions, I have touted all the great, enjoyable vacation resources we are lucky to have within our region. But I do understand that many, as I, like to travel outside of our own backyards. It makes sense geographically for businesses to situate here because of our access to, and geographic location in, the Northeast, but I also ask you to re-consider the personal advantages to living, working and playing here.
Think about the diverse options within a relatively short distance from our region. Want some lobsters freshly caught from the Atlantic Ocean? I can't think of many places in the world where you can be on the seacoast in four hours or less (my trip to the Massachusetts coast south of Boston cost me just over $100, round trip). One tank of gas can get you to Maine, Cape Cod, the New Hampshire coast, Long Island or the shores of New Jersey.
In the mood for theater or a museum? You can visit places in your own backyard in our region, or in the most culturally diverse city in the world, (New York City, within a three hour drive, by bus, by Amtrak train, or even by a combination of car and Metro North.
And don't forget Boston. Want to experience what another country can offer? Get on the Northway and you can be in Montreal in about four hours, or via Amtrak train from Amsterdam to Albany and then north to Canada. Want to climb the 46 peaks of the Adirondacks? Start less than an hour north of Fulton County and see some of the most beautiful backcountry in the world throughout the Adirondacks. I don't have to remind you that there is world class thoroughbred racing in Saratoga Springs, about a half hour away and a healthy wine region a couple of hours away in the Finger Lakes. These are only a few examples of the many diverse vacation opportunities that are at our fingertips - all in addition to the world-class tourism resources in our own region.
My point to all this? While many dream of the day when they can go to the southern climates, I ask you to consider these points. Yes, it's warmer there in the winter months (think high air-conditioner bills all year round), but it is also becoming more crowded, and I am not sure that I can comment on the taxes and fees there.
Also consider what you would be leaving behind - true travel diversity at every level and desire, snow/brisk air during the holiday season (I still can't imagine a Christmas tree without snow), friends and family and, of course, alligator-free swimming holes.
So when it comes time to retire, consider doing that right here in the Fulton-Montgomery region and experience the greatness of the Northeast when you have the time to fully appreciate it!
Mark Kilmer is the president of the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce.