Overview - Tompkins County Tompkins County is in the western Finger Lakes region of New York at the bottom of Cayuga, the longest of the 11 lakes. Ithaca is the county seat, the largest municipality, and centrally located. There are 10 other towns and several villages in some of the towns. The city of Ithaca has an urban center of less than a square mile, surrounded by residential areas. The town of Ithaca is suburban and rural and other towns are largely rural with some areas of denser suburban style development. The main source of employment is in education; Cornell University is by far the largest employer. There is a small manufacturing presence and a service economy that is a mix of locally owned and franchise/chain businesses. The county is politically progressive, especially compared to much of rural upstate New York.