Cryptomining offers opportunity to rebuild upstate NY economies

By: William Hall
January 25, 2024

Residents in upstate New York haven’t had it easy since the region lost its manufacturing base over the past few decades. Families have relocated for work or have seen their children graduate from school and leave the area in search of better economic opportunities. When Greenidge Generation opened its cryptomining facility in the village of Dresden, things changed for the better. Unfortunately, in 2022, New York imposed a temporary moratorium on cryptomining that impacted operations at Greenidge. This has once again strained the local economy.

Cryptocurrencies offer a way forward for the region to recover and attract new industries and stable jobs. They also represent technology and innovation that will continue to grow and provide future opportunities. Cryptomining facilities are major employers and economic drivers. Facility construction creates opportunities for local contractors. Building these operations can take two or more years, providing good-paying jobs. Once operational, facilities continue employing residents who then frequent local restaurants, shops and other small businesses. Over time, these jobs could bring in millions of dollars in wages and local economic activity.

Most of the residents of Dresden support the facility. They are grateful for the contributions its executives have made to the community, including covering part of the cost of an expensive new CT scanner for our local hospital and a “jaws of life” rescue system for our volunteer fire department. Lawmakers seldom hear about crypto mining facilities’ positive impact on small communities. These stories must be told. We need the continued advocacy of our elected officials like Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. She has been a leader in supporting reasonable regulation of cryptocurrencies that will preserve innovation and economic development rather than taking a sledgehammer to the industry and crippling local economies.

My sense is that cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are still developing and relatively new, and rather than take a close and careful look at how Greenidge impacts our area, some elected officials inadvertently voted to pass legislation that is actually a detriment to the people who live and work in places like Dresden year-round. Their misunderstanding of the technology and decision not to visit and look more closely at on-the-ground operations unfairly impacts daily life in small communities like ours.

Locals know and respect the natural landscape of Dresden and the lakes and regions in our area. Many Greenidge employees and local contractors are avid outdoor enthusiasts and wouldn’t think of supporting any industry that would threaten the beauty and abundance of central and upstate New York’s environment. The campaign to shutter Greenidge was amplified by seasonal residents and groups who used information that wasn’t specific to operations here in Dresden. Unlike other crypto mining facilities, Greenidge generates its own power supply and fully supports New York’s efforts to move away from fossil-fuel energy and embrace a low to zero carbon future.

Residents often shared stories with me about how their children loved growing up here, but a lack of job prospects forced them to leave home after high school and college graduation. When more new industries and technology companies locate their operations here in New York, it creates conditions that encourage folks to stay in the region and earn a good living in various jobs, from skilled trades to electrical engineering, entrepreneurship, education, hospitality and small business ownership. Support from local, state and federal officials is already improving the economic future of central and upstate New York. Emerging industries like crypto mining need to be embraced in the same positive ways that led to the influx of manufacturing in high-tech fields like chip manufacturing, which have transformed the landscape and future for thousands of residents.

As debates about crypto mining and cryptocurrency regulations continue, I urge legislators and interest groups to visit places where safe, effective and conscientious crypto mining is doing great things for local residents and economies. With the right policies, New York State can create jobs, rebuild our local economies and lead the nation and the world in emerging technologies.

William Hall is a volunteer firefighter and mayor of the village of Dresden in Yates County, New York.

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