Community Profile

Jefferson County is located in the in North Central New York State. The County borders Lake Ontario on the west and the St. Lawrence River and Canada to the north. Running up the middle of Jefferson County is Interstate 81 connecting directly to Canada’s Highway 401 in the Province of Ontario via the Thousand Islands International Bridge System.

The population is distributed among 22 towns, 20 incorporated villages, and one city. The City of Watertown, the county seat, is centrally located on the Black River, 11 miles east of Lake Ontario, 22 miles south of the S. Lawrence River, with no part of the County being over 28 miles away. Jefferson County’s population grew to 116,229 in 2010, which indicates a 4.0% increase since the 2000 census. Jefferson was New York State’s “Fastest Growing County” in 2006, 2010, and 2012.

Located 9 miles east of Watertown is Fort Drum, home to more than 39,257 soldiers and dependents, and over 4000 civilian employees of the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) and its supporting tenants. The largest Army installation in the Northeast, it is also a major training center for Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers.


Jefferson County’s economy has traditionally been resource based, providing many economic opportunities afforded by its water, agricultural and forest assets. Dairy farming, food processing and light manufacturing are major industries in the County. In addition, railroad equipment, industrial machinery and paper good manufacturing continue to be substantial contributors to the area’s economy.

Five counties in Northern New York have been named the “Energy Valley” of New York State by the state Senate. Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Oswego and Franklin counties were given the title based on the wide range of renewable and alternative energy production facilities in the area. Projects cited in these five counties include: a solid waste management facility’s methane gas-to-energy plant, two large wind farms, a wood chip burning biomass facility, hydroelectric facilities, and three nuclear reactors.

Within the past 10 years companies such as: Stream Global Services, Inc. (customer service call center), Roth Industries (manufacturer of hydronic radiant heating plumbing and storage systems), and most recently Morris Northstar Hatchery (egg hatchery) have moved into the area. Local corporate expansions include: CAR-FRESHNER, Timeless Frames, Renzi Brothers, Current Applications, and Great Lakes Cheese.

The City of Watertown is home to the New York State Regional Offices of the Departments of Transportation and Environmental Conservation. State prisons are located in Cape Vincent and Town of Watertown.

Fort Drum is clearly the largest economic engine in the region, and one of the largest single employers in New York State. According to the 2010 Fort Drum Economic Impact Study, the Post is responsible for $1.5 billion in direct spending in the region. That includes, but is not limited to, $1.2 billion in payroll, $155 million in installation contracting, $64 million in Army Corps of Engineer contracting, and $32 million in medical and dental services.

Jefferson County is experiencing an unparalleled economic boom as a result of Fort Drum’s expansion. The resulting increase in new military residents has elevated the Fort’s economic significance in the County as well as providing area employers with an added workforce base from which to draw.


Quality of Life

The area offers a small-town atmosphere with metropolitan amenities and four seasons of fun. Lake Ontario is our western boundary, the St. Lawrence River/1000 Islands our northern, and the Tug Hill Plateau our southern, resulting in a county where water sports and outdoor recreation flourish. Lake Placid, New York, Boston, and Philadelphia are within a few hours drive. Our close proximity to Canada makes international travel to Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal a simple trek. The Watertown International Airport is serviced by Cape Air airlines with direct flights to Albany, NY, linking to both national and international airports.

There are numerous national retailers and restaurant chains, as well as many quaint shops and boutiques that can be found throughout Jefferson County. You don’t have to travel far to enjoy a comedian at the Sackets Harbor Playhouse or a performance at the Clayton Opera House.

Healthcare needs are met by three area hospitals that combine to provide a complete range of services. Recent expansion projects have accommodated new technologies for improved medical and surgical diagnosis and treatment.

Jefferson County is home to 11 public school districts and 8 non-public schools. “Hands-on” learning for area high school students is provided by the Bohlen Technical Center. Continuing education programs for adults are offered in construction trades and mechanics, as well as business and health occupations. Jefferson Community College offers custom educational/training programs designed to meet the needs of area employers. Also, a complete range of undergraduate and graduate degrees are available through a consortium of State University of New York colleges and private institutions.

Housing prices in the County are affordable. The Median Price for a home in 2010 was $130,000. The County’s growth has also resulted in the construction of new homes making it easy for families to locate the right home in the setting they desire.

Over the past 25 years, the growth of Fort Drum has helped bring diversity to the area and a renewed appreciation of our good schools, safe neighborhoods, affordable housing, and a variety of job opportunities. As the home of the 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum, the unique blending of the military and civilian communities makes Jefferson County one of the best places to live in the country! Most recently, Fort Drum won the 2011 silver award as a “Community of Excellence”, based on a review of Army installations across the globe—a real tribute to the region’s quality of life.