Hudson makes top-25 list for small-town millionaires
Columbia County community is booming thanks to 'hip' factor and COVID-19
HUDSON — There are no Bentley or Lamborghini dealers here and the closest thing they have to Rodeo Drive is the hip antique district along Warren Street. But the greater Hudson area apparently has one of the nation’s highest concentration of millionaire households in small-town America, according to a recent report from Kiplinger, a well-known finance publication that has a website and newsletter.
Hudson is listed in 25th place on their ranking for small towns, putting it in the same league as resort communities like Steamboat Springs, Colo. (22nd), Key West, Fla. (13th) as well as oil shale boomtown of Williston, North Dakota (5th).
The government R&D center of Los Alamos, New Mexico, was first.
To be sure, major cities like New York or Los Angeles have far more millionaires than these small towns, but this ranking looks at the concentration of millionaires in a given community.
And the ranking actually covers Hudson and the surrounding communities in Columbia County.
Kiplinger’s data came from a survey of 933 communities put together by Phoenix Marketing International, an advertising and branding research firm that focuses on wealthy consumers.
They looked at “micropolitan areas,” or what the U.S. Census Bureau describes as urban clusters of between 10,000 and 50,000 people that are linked together by commuting ties.
The survey doesn’t count real estate or business partnerships in its wealth calculation. Instead, it looked at households with at least $1 million in assets like stocks, bonds and cash.
Of the 25,243 households in the Hudson area, 1,810 or 7.2 percent would qualify as millionaires. That’s compared to a national average of 6.7 percent.
Local businesspeople and community leaders contacted by the Times Union hadn’t heard of the ranking but they said they weren’t surprised, given the number of wealthy New York City residents with second homes in the area.
And thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more of them are becoming permanent residents.
“I’m not shocked at all,” said Ruth Adams, executive director at Art Omi, a non-profit arts center in Ghent, about 20 minutes from town.
“We’re in that magic radius from New York City,” she said, referring to the approximately 120-mile drive and easy Amtrak access to the city.
She recalls reading a news story over a decade ago that asked “Is the Hudson Valley the next Hamptons?”
Then the 2008 financial crash came, which slowed development in Hudson and everywhere else.
But now, the region is poised again to explode.
Even though the survey looked at assets other than real estate, skyrocketing home prices and rents came to mind when people were discussing wealth in the area.
Local rents that may have ranged between $800 and $1,500 per month have jumped by 30 to 40 percent, said Adams, making it hard for her to hire non-profit arts people who can afford to live in the area.
“They’ve skyrocketed during the pandemic,” she said.
“The population must have doubled in the last six months,” said real estate agent David Birch. “Half of Brooklyn has moved up to Hudson.”
“We’re getting, over the last three to four months, a surge,” in home sales and people coming to the area, added Mike Tucker, the President and CEO of
Columbia Economic Development Corp., a local organization that helps bring businesses to the county.
Despite the concentration of millionaires, the city of Hudson itself faces lots of challenges.
Starting life as an 18th Century whaling port (seagoing ships would sail up the Hudson River), the city as well as surrounding small hamlets have seen various ups and downs over the years, as a center of textile and then brick making as well as garage doors and vaporizers, all of which eventually went away.
And in the 6,000-population City of Hudson itself, there are persistent pockets of poor and struggling neighborhoods.
In fact, the share of households since 2010 receiving SNAP or Food Stamp benefits in Hudson has risen from 16% to 31%, according to a recent economic development profile.
The concentration of wealthy households in the area likely has a double-edged impact on efforts to help the city’s struggling neighborhoods.
The influx of wealthy home buyers keeps pushing up housing prices. But it has also fueled what Tucker said is a growing tourism and hospitality industry that creates jobs and new opportunities.
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