North Country Symposium | St. Lawrence University

North Country Symposium


The 17th Annual North Country Symposium
"Movement in the North Country"

Eben Holden Conference Center, St. Lawrence University
November 18th 2019; 8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. (registration to begin at 8:00 a.m.)

Supported by St. Lawrence University’s Ellen C. Burt ’42 Endowment for North Country Education


The mission of the North Country Symposium is to convene stakeholders in northern New York to explore and ultimately enhance the region's economic, environmental, and educational vitality.  Through this forum, we share important concepts, trends, and key information and bring together a diverse participation of community leaders and stakeholders to catalyze new approaches to North Country development.

With our region seeking to recruit residents as entrepreneurs, workforce, and civic leaders, we will look at national rural migration patterns and the elements of community development that must be addressed to successfully recruit residents to our North Country communities: place-making, downtown redevelopment, housing, recreation, arts and culture, and more. We will also hear from the leaders of emerging initiatives that have our region ‘on the move.’

This year’s event will feature a keynote address on “Rewriting the Rural Narrative” by Ben Winchester, Researcher and Educator of Community Economics at the University of Minnesota.  Mr. Winchester has performed research into the “Brain Gain” migration patterns of 30-49 year old people to rural areas, and he will help us understand the community economic dynamics involved in recruiting residents to our rural communities.  A more detailed biography is available here.  Winfield previews his address as follows:

"It seems the rural story has already been told. Small towns keep getting smaller.  Churches, schools, clinics, businesses, and now post offices, have closed their doors as the lucky few migrate out to the big cities. This deficit framework dominates how we discuss and envision our rural communities. However, the story of rural America since 1970 is rich and diverse, with positive trends occurring under the radar. Learn how positive changes around migration, community involvement, economic development, and regional living have been occurring across the rural landscape that require us to rewrite the narrative of rural community change."

The program will also feature:

Presentations on Emerging Initiatives, with roots in the North Country Symposium, that provide hope for the sustainability of our rural communities:

  • The North Country Center for Businesses in Transition
    Dani Delaini, Business Transition Program Coordinator, Adirondack North Country Association
  • The St. Lawrence County Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership CORE program
    Lenore Vanderzee, Executive Director for University Relations, SUNY Canton
  • And the launch of a Resident Recruitment Program in St. Lawrence County
    Patrick Kelly, CEO, St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency

A Panel of Newcomers and Returnees to the region, who will share their thoughts on why they moved to the North Country.

A Series of Workshops and Exercises led by Mr. Winchester to help participants understand the “resource watersheds” of the region, and the assets and opportunities that can be built upon to make our region the most desirable place to live, work, and play.

Networking and Discussion Time

These are a few of the initiatives and strategies that will be featured at this year’s Symposium.  They are obviously connected and we will use them to show how we can achieve cohesiveness in economic development efforts in the North Country to create a strong image of the region and better advocate for resources with state and federal leadership.  We also seek to build awareness of these critical efforts and explore how we can all – together – contribute to endeavors that will transform the rural communities we call home.

This event is free and open to all people who have an interest in enhancing the vitality of the North Country Region.  A hearty lunch and refreshments will be available.

Directions and parking information can be found here.

For more information, contact the North Country Symposium Coordinator, Ben Dixon, at (315) 229-5664 or