Putnam’s Businesses, Nonprofits and Tourism Interests Rely on Each Other

Jennifer Maher | August 2015

Putnam County’s economy is essentially a symbiotic relationship between area businesses, nonprofits and the tourism industry, and business development strategies would do well to understand this interaction.

Perhaps more than any other nearby county, Putnam relies on large nonprofit employers to provide jobs and fuel our economy.  A review of the Putnam County Economic Development Corporation website (www.putnamedc.org) shows that the top four employers in the county are nonprofits totaling 2,182 employees (by contrast the top four for-profit employers total 882 workers). Putnam Hospital Center, our largest private employer, accounts for 1,041 on its own. This is an important consideration, because nonprofits rely on the contributions of donors to meet their budgets and fund operations, and pay their employees.   

The sheer size of Putnam’s nonprofit community seems to indicate a considerable amount of pressure on the rest of our businesses to support them.  Where does the money come from? Studies have indicated in the past that “Shop Putnam” works pretty well, so people tend to keep their money local where possible. For our economy to grow, an influx of dollars from outside sources is vital. The good news is we are within an hour of one of the largest population sources on the planet.  This presents opportunity, and also helps us understand how attracting tourists to Putnam will support not only our nonprofit organizations, but our for-profit businesses as well.

Every time a customer makes a purchase at Niese’s Maple Farm in Putnam Valley or attends a concert at Boscobel in Cold Spring, for example, those dollars enter our county’s economy, supporting these tourism businesses and those they interact with, and eventually the area nonprofits which receive donations and/or perform services for employees of these firms. It’s a special, mutually supportive relationship, emphasizing the need to support all facets of our economy—businesses (including tourist businesses) and nonprofits.

Jennifer Maher
Jennifer Maher is chairwoman, the Putnam County Business Council and currently serves as the president of the Putnam/Westchester Chapter of the New York State Commercial Association of Realtors. She is also the Chief Operating Officer, Managing Broker and Partner of J. Philip Real Estate.