Introduction

The Adirondack Initiative for Wired Work hosted by Clarkson University represents a group of energized regional leaders and working professionals committed to advancing creative work and lifestyle choices by promoting technology and services that encourage corporate telecommuting, mobile work, green tech commerce and entrepreneurship from home offices with negligible impact on the natural environment.. The Adirondack Initiative has sponsored a survey to understand the needs of corporate telecommuters, entrepreneurs and mobile professionals interested in “Working Wired” in the Adirondack North Country Region.

In a recently published document The Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages found that its communities were increasingly becoming poorer and aging at a rate far exceeding that of the national average. That report, The Adirondack Park Regional Assessment Project, marked a number of troubling signs for the future viability and economic security of the region. Needed jobs, retention of our youth, and decreasing school enrollment were all but a few that were identified. It was also noted that some 40% of residential properties in the Park are owned by those living outside the “Blue Line,” which represents over half of the Park’s total residential value. In many towns, the shifting of tax burdens to out-of-park residents can be as low as 10% but as high 80%.

Economic development issues are complex, with solutions multi-faceted. Historically, many of those who want to live in the Park have limited their career choices to those services that are supported by the tourist trade. This research project asks if that can now change. Expanded technologies in the 21st Century have extended our working and living options thanks to telecommuting. Worker’s can now live anywhere as long as technology precedes them.

The Adirondack Initiative for Wired Work survey report identifies a number of issues relating to current attitudes about telecommuting and its usage. Its objectives, however, go beyond academic interest. Could the advent and growth of telecommuting assist the Adirondack Park in attracting new residents who are interested in building or supporting their careers, or entrepreneurial ventures? Beyond the need for high speed connection and Park-wide cell reception, are other business support systems needed and are they in place?

Though it may be only one piece to a complex economic challenge, telecommuters, as a market, can potentially be a strong contributor to new residential growth.

To this end, this report identifies:

  • Interest and experiences in telecommuting among a select audience
  • Interest/awareness in making the Adirondacks a potential “home” to telecommuting activities
  • Perceived advantages and disadvantages of living/working in the Adirondacks
  • Viability of developing “Business Centers” that would support and encourage technological growth

Sample

This quantitative study included a sample of 600 respondents. A questionnaire was designed and implemented as an online survey using a database monitored by Clarkson University. In addition, self-administered questionnaires located at various site locations throughout the Park provided for a more diverse audience in this sample. Survey work began in July and ended August 2009. Though this sample is heavily skewed toward male responses (74%), it does represent a wide diversity of age, residency, work status, telecommuting experience and time spent visiting the Park.