We’ve just returned from a weekend family event in Brooklyn, NY. Although this journey had little to do with business (and I won’t claim it as a tax expense), the travel provided a reminder of the diversity, complexity, challenges, heritage and opportunities in the AEC industry.
While there are several direct flights each day between Ottawa and Laguardia Airport, the fare is about 1/3 as costly with a three-hour drive to Syracuse, in northern New York state. Here, we see the differences in taxes and costs and the peculiar opportunities and challenges that borders create. (We may stretch these money-saving arbitrage concepts even further with a contemplated visit to Chicago in May. U.S. federal subsidies have resulted in absurdly low fares from a small city even closer to the border than Syracuse, in Watertown NY, not to be confused with the Boston suburb in the news.)
In Brooklyn, the relative health of some formerly near-destroyed U.S. cities is also apparent. (Washington, DC, is also enjoying a renaissance.) Old buildings, formerly run-down and havens for vagrants and drug dealers, have been revitalized with young adults and families. Sure, some things are more expensive than we experience in Canada, but the population density is mind-boggling, enhanced by the rural driving experience in eastern Ontario and Northern New York.
While we spent most of our time in Brooklyn, we crossed the iconic Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan, and drove past the 9-11 site, the One World Trade Center site (formerly the Freedom Tower). As family members gathered for a Friday night dinner, we shared tweets and mobile phone reports on the Boston Marathon terrorist incident. I recall telling others near me that “they’ve captured the guy in a boat in a back-yard,” causing rather incredulous reactions.
I felt some optimism when we returned home at 11 p.m. Despite the recent violence in not-too-distant locations, I could see plenty of hope, growth and opportunity, coupled with tradition and diversity.