The recently released county-specific report from ACT Rochester indicates that Yates is the only county in a nine-county region in which the median household income kept up with inflation since 2000. But there are other indicators of the report card that require some response from local officials. In fact, Steve Griffin, CEO of the Finger Lakes Economic Development Center (Yates County’s industrial/economic development agency) says the report doesn’t accurately represent the community.
“If somebody who is not familiar with Yates County were to read this report, they’d be led to believe we are less educated than our neighbors and have a large portion of uninsured individuals, which must equate to being economically challenged. It adds to the perception challenge we face,” Griffin recently commented, later adding, “The report simply reaffirms my belief that we are largely an unknown entity within the Rochester Region, and we have to work harder to educate the region on the many positive aspects of living and working in Yates County.”
Griffin says the there are factors that make Yates County unique and more difficult to measure by the standards ACT is applies to Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Monroe, Livingston, Wayne, Ontario, and Seneca Counties. He expressed frustration with the perceptions the public may draw based on the report card, and decide against moving to Yates County based on what he believes are erroneous conclusions.
“I appreciate what RACF and ACT Rochester are attempting to accomplish with their annual county report cards. Trying to statistically determine a community’s health is difficult to say the least, and I applaud them for their effort. I am, however, questioning their interpretation of the data in key categories and am frustrated by the lack of acknowledging the impact our large Mennonite population plays on numerous datasets despite the fact I have discussed this with them.
“I also find it odd that written summaries of specific data points often take on a very negative tone even when the data is positive,” he continues.
“I truly understand the challenge trying to normalize data from nine counties that are very much different from one another. However, I continue to be concerned that what they are publicizing regarding Yates County’s health is not an accurate representation and is counter-productive to the efforts of many within Yates County.”
As an example, Griffin states, “Under their economy overview, they state Yates County saw total jobs grow by 17 percent from 2001 to 2016, which was ‘well above the region (2 percent) and every regional county.’” That positive data point is followed by a statement, “The small number of total jobs in Yates (12,199) means that large changes for individual sectors can be misleading.”