The North Country, it goes without saying, was created by immigrants — and not so long ago.
From Lyon Mountain to Tupper Lake, people from far-flung lands dug in, got to work, and built things.
The last half-century, though, the number of immigrants from outside the US choosing our rural region as the place to start their new life has slowed to a trickle.
This morning, I report that Canada — and some nearby cities like Kingston, Ontario –is making a concerted effort to attract newcomers.
In particular, they’re looking for newcomers with skills, ideas, energy and entrepreneurial experience.
Some of this is happening in our region, of course. In the St. Lawrence valley, the Amish have arrived in growing numbers and are changing the landscape with their buggies and their burgeoning families.
And Lake Placid’s prosperity in the post-Olympics era has been shaped to a large degree by immigrants.
But I wonder if we couldn’t do a lot more. The Jamaicans who help pick our apples in the fall — can we help them start their own orchards?
Why not help some of our migrant dairy workers — many of them from Mexico or Central America — start their own farms here?
How about a program that helps sponsor some of those young seasonal workers who flock to our resort towns.
We’ve got them on the line. Why not reel them in, get them enrolled in one of our regional colleges, develop programs to help mentor them, urge them to put down roots.
Obviously, this will never be an easy sell. It’s easier to recruit immigrants to Kingston or Toronto than it is to bring people into North Creek or Plattsburgh.
But efforts like the foreign high school student outreach in Newcomb have shown that innovative programs here can work.
What do you think? Canada is luring in its next generation of strivers and entrepreneurs. Should the North Country do the same?