Poughkeepsie, New York

Business View Magazine recently interviewed City of Poughkeepsie Community Development Co-ordinator, Paul Hesse, and Senior Planner, Natalie Quinn, who discussed the attributes, challenges, and exciting future of this flourishing Hudson Valley community. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation. BVM: What would you say are Poughkeepsie’s greatest attributes? Hesse: “Definitely, our location along the Hud- son River.We are historically a river and rail town, so we still have a direct rail connection to the New York City area – the Metro North.We also connect to the broader northeast region via Amtrak. Poughkeepsie’s station serves both train operators.We are a traditional, historic, com- pact, urban city and those attributes are increas- ingly desirable for people looking to live in an urban environment. Having a walkable, bikeable, intimate environment is more attractive to young professionals or people looking to get out of the NYC area, but who still want the conveniences of urban living. “The population of the city, itself, is about 30,000; the Town of Poughkeepsie that surrounds us is another 40,000. This is New York State, after all, so we have various layers of cities, towns, and villages.Within a five to ten mile radius of the downtown area, there are 100,000 to 150,000 res- idents, with increasingly converging needs and desires - from younger people to empty nesters looking for that urban feel POUGHKEEPSIE, NEWYORK and transit accessibility. Poughkeepsie has always been an immigrant community and, like a lot of other communities, we’re seeing a large influx of folks coming from Latin America, particularly Oaxaca, Mexico. So there is a shift there in terms of ethnicity.” Quinn: “The Hudson Valley has a lot of cute, rural, more suburban areas, but Poughkeepsie sets itself apart with its very compact urban center. It feels like you’re still living in the city, but in 5-10 minutes you can be out of that and into the Valley. Another huge asset is our architecture. We have a huge range of historic buildings from different periods – an eclectic mix that welcomes new architecture but gives a nod to Poughkeep- sie’s past, which residents really love.We’re sur- rounded by academic institutions (Vassar, Marist, Dutchess County Community College, the Culi- nary Institute of America), so we’ve never had a shortage of young residents living in and around Poughkeepsie.” BVM: What are the major economic drivers? Hesse: “Over the last ten years, the healthcare industry has had the largest share of jobs - close to 50 percent, now.We have a lot of healthcare professionals living and working here –many doctors’ offices and medical facilities, and Vassar Brothers Medical Center which is undergoing a $500 million expansion to the campus on the city’s south side.We also have Westchester Medi- cal Center in the Town of Poughkeepsie just over the town/city border. Administration for education and government institutions is the second big- gest employer. As the county seat for Dutchess County, we have the courthouse, the DMV, many county offices, as well as the local government and the institutions around us. “Like the rest of the Hudson Valley, we’re also