Teresi Interviewed For Economic Viability Book

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Jamestown is a micropolitan city, which is a municipality that has between 10,000 and 50,000 residents.

That is one reason why Jamestown, which has a population of just over 30,000, was used in a book titled “The Economic Viability of Micropolitan America.” The book was written by Gerald L. Gordon, who is the Economic Development Authority president and chief executive officer in Fairfax County, Va.

Gordon’s book includes three pages discussing Jamestown facts such as its population, unemployment and history. Gordon also interviewed Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi for the book. The author and the mayor talked about keeping businesses in the city, Teresi’s opinion that the Census Bureau undercounts the city’s population, the mayor’s experience with the New York Conference of Mayors, working with private sector manufacturers, tourism and keeping a positive attitude.

“I wanted to speak to 70 leaders from 70 micropolitan communities around the United States,” Gordon stated in an email. “I was seeking a geographic distribution as well as municipalities that had experienced economic growth issues and/or successes. I was seeking positive examples of what a community can do to grow or re-grow its economy and that could serve as ‘lessons’ for others in similar circumstances. Some of the cities were recommended to me and some were selected after my own research.”

Gordon said the most interesting aspect of interviewing Teresi was the mayor’s point-of-view that the Census Bureau’s population count for the city is misleading and how it impacts city revenues. According to an excerpt from the book, Teresi tells Gordon about how Jamestown is home to many “snowbirds” who leave the region for warmer climates during the cold months. Because the official date collection for the Census is done in April, Teresi believes these residents are not counted. Also, college students away at school and other city residents who do not respond to Census counters leads to an even lower population tally. For a micropolitan community, small percentage changes can have a dramatic consequences in the amount the city receives in state and federal aid.

Teresi, who was interviewed more than a year ago for the book, said his office periodically gets calls for information for books or for thesis papers. Teresi said, to the best of his recollection, he focused his conversation on what city officials have control of at the local level in order to make positive changes.

“You have to maintain a positive and constructive attitude toward things. A negative attitude or frustration has never rebuilt a road or lead to a business staying,” he said. “A negative and frustrating attitude just digs a bigger hole to try and climb out of.”

Teresi said Jamestown being spotlighted in the book is a positive for the community. He said you never know who will be reading the book who may become aware of the city, and where that may lead.

“We try whenever possible to be accommodating to people doing this work. It all has to do with the subject matter. If we feel we are dealing with people with good motivation, we try to be accommodating as much as possible,” he said.

Teresi said from his time as a graduate assistant, he too had to make similar calls to government officials asking for information.

“I had to reach out and do this type of fact gathering. I’m sympathetic to this because I can relate,” he said. “It is never fun to be met with a slammed door, someone hanging up the phone on you or a questioner never responded to. I can appreciate what they are doing.”