Pattern-for-Progress – a non-profit, public policy research and planning institute founded by civic and business leaders in 1965 – serves as a think-tank for a nine-county region in New York: Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester.
But it’s home is in Orange County in the city of Newburgh. And reminiscent of the county’s world-famous black dirt farms in Pine Island, many consider Orange’s 816 square miles the most fertile land in which to grow the fruits of economic development in the entire Hudson Valley, if not New York State.
Before the Orange County Partnership recruits businesses to the area or the Orange County Chamber of Commerce nurtures them once a firm is established here, most of the economic development agencies turn to Pattern-for-Progress for qualitative research and analysis about the myriad issues germane to job creation in the region. As one of the Hudson Valley’s pre-eminent research and evaluation agencies, Pattern seeks a balance between growth and the issues that affect the county’s quality of life.
“We think about how to help people move here and locate their businesses here,” says Jonathan Drapkin, Pattern CEO. “But business also wants a regional understanding of how everything works, and that’s what we help to provide.”
On the other side of that equation, Pattern-for-Progress spends a great deal of time examining issues deemed vital by local lawmakers.
“There’s so much pressure on local government,” Drapkin says. “They’re responsible for school systems, taxes, the environment, creating the right climate for businesses,” not to mention healthcare, transportation and a host of other issues. “It’s a really tricky period in the country’s history,” Drapkin says, “but local government is doing some very clever things.” And Pattern is usually there to contribute to that effort.
Pattern has studied, lobbied and proposed solutions to a number of topics over the years, such as affordable housing and balancing environmental requisites with the rights of business and industry. “We usually have a special advocacy mission every year,” Drapkin says, pointing to a recent Pattern campaign calling for equitable taxation by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Pattern completed studies of MTA’s payroll tax proposals, conducted its own investigations and issued several white papers on the impact to the region.
In a nutshell, Pattern provides plenty of the heavy lifting – the nuts-and-bolts research that engenders insightful, impartial perspective about life and commerce in Orange County – as well as a blueprint for how to confront the issues.
Three different Pattern committees – Intergovernmental Cooperation, Regional Housing and Land Use Policy – meet regularly to discuss regional issues. In addition, Pattern hosts a series of breakfasts, regional leadership meetings and receptions, all offering business and local government an opportunity to network, share concerns and work toward achieving solutions to problems that interfere with job creation or imperil Orange County’s top-notch quality of life.