According to U.S. Census data, at 77%, the population of Putnam County, NY, is predominantly White. In fact, aside from Ulster County, Putnam is the least diverse county in the Mid-Hudson Region. This is neither judgment nor praise, just a simple demographic fact. Adding to a lack of diversity, our county seat is 60 miles north of New York City, where racial discord and violent protests have waged war against police and racism.
For many Putnam residents and businesses, racism is not regularly encountered. Based on our county's demographic make-up, we simply don't see, and therefore, don't feel the pain of disenfranchisement that peaceful and lawful protesters of the anti-racism movement are fighting against. So, how and why do we, as a community, adopt a mindset of tolerance, empathy, and racial equality?
Education to set the stage for the future
We, as a business community, have a moral obligation to evangelize a message of inclusion. Our future generations depend on it. Since the PCBC was established, one of our main priorities has been to attract millennials and young families to sustain and grow our population. The impact of COVID and civil unrest is prompting many New York City families and young professionals to migrate out of the city and into the Hudson Valley Region. Consequently, over the next several years, Putnam can expect to see an influx of diverse populations putting down roots in our community.
In addition to rising property values and a broader tax base that will support better services and infrastructure, this influx will forward our economic agenda, such that businesses will benefit from a larger consumer base, greater opportunity and growth. That said, we need to acknowledge and understand that relocating city dwellers are accustomed to diversity and represent multi-cultures and ethnicities themselves. We can only benefit from adopting a welcoming and inclusive culture in Putnam County.
For our part, the PCBC is supporting racial equality among the business community by partnering with the Business Council of Westchester, as well as the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, and other Hudson Valley business organizations to provide Free Anti-Racism Educational Programming, developed and presented by professionals from Balancing Life’s Issues. Topics include:
○ Fostering Inclusion in the Workplace
○ How to be an Inclusive Leader
○ What You Need to Know About Demonstrations
○ Coping with Civil Unrest
○ Self-Care in the Face of Trauma
○ Raising Children to Respect Diversity in Your Home
○ And more programming to be rolled out soon.
Our goal is to increase diversity and inclusiveness in Putnam County. The Business Council Board will be working to develop a PCBC Minority and Women-Owned Business division in the coming weeks, which will include a directory of M/WBE businesses.