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Someplace Special: Not Taking Our County For Granted

When people live somewhere long enough, they often forget what they love about it.

The next time you take a drive locally, pretend you’ve never been here before. Try to see the area through the eyes of a stranger. Think about the features that draw you to visit other places. Think about the things you would care about if you had to move to a new location. Then think about what draws others to come here.

Many of us take all of the wonderful things we enjoy in Chautauqua County for granted. It’s time we appreciated everything we have and encouraged more people to join us, whether for a short visit or a permanent relocation.

Over the past year, many people have become comfortable working from home and uncomfortable living in large, crowded cities. Many are starting to consider relocating permanently to more rural places like those found in Chautauqua County. People don’t miss dealing with long commutes or the stress inherent in working in a large city. A lot of them have found they can be much more productive working from home. Many of their employers are realizing this too. As a result, there’s been an increase in the number of people seeking the good life, the quiet life, in a location that feels safe.

At the same time, people still want to live somewhere featuring exciting things to do every season of the year. Just like vacationers, they want exciting entertainment venues and world-class amenities. They want great food and housing. They seek exceptional educational opportunities. They want all of this and more, all at a reasonable cost.

They’re seeking balance.

If you lived in or around Chautauqua County in the 1980s, you might remember the area was referred to as Someplace Special back then. If you live here now, you know it’s not only still Someplace Special; this area keeps getting better and better. Consequently, the county is becoming more and more attractive to people who don’t live here.

During a period in time when people are deeply concerned with their health, it doesn’t get better than being in Chautauqua County. Featuring gorgeous waterfronts, year-round outdoor recreational opportunities, and an abundance of fresh, high-quality locally-produced foods and beverages, it’s tough to beat Chautauqua County. Being centrally situated just a short drive to large cities like Buffalo, Erie, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Niagara Falls, and Toronto adds to the area’s allure.

Chautauqua County has highly acclaimed entertainment venues, like the Fredonia Opera House, the Lighthouse, the National Comedy Center, and Midway Park. The area features a world-class education center and summer resort in the Chautauqua Institution. We have one of the three largest universities in Western New York and an outstanding community college. The area has a fascinating history. It is full of museums and historical monuments documenting it. We have lovely year-round trails, greenways, and endless sporting opportunities, whether you enjoy organized sports, hiking, fishing, skiing, hunting or something else.

There are farms and farm stands at every turn here. As the state’s top producer of grapes in the Western New York region, people flock to the Lake Erie Wine Trail, and excitement continues to grow for the popular Craft Beverage industry that has been taking off here.

In addition to visitors and potential new residents, developers see the potential here. Some, like Athenex in Dunkirk, have already chosen the county for their industry expansions. Employers know how important corporate culture is to attracting and retaining good employees. Consequentially, some seek great new locations here, while others are getting more flexible about where their employees work.

That opens the door to communities like those found in Chautauqua County. Since more and more careers and job opportunities may be less dependent on location than on skill sets, cost of living and quality of life may become ever more significant determinants in where people choose to live.

Chautauqua County has so much to offer. Let’s make sure the rest of the world knows what a special place Chautauqua County is.

Patty Hammond is Economic Development Coordinator at the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation. The Local Economic Development (LED) Initiative is a standing committee of the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation (NCCF). Send comments or suggestions to phammond@nccfoundation.org.

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