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By: Paul Post
Via: The Saratogian
On Tuesday, March 18, 2014, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the adoption of the Economic Development Strategic Plan prepared by TIP Strategies, Inc.
BALLSTON SPA, NY >> Saratoga County’s new economic development plan calls for creation of a Local Development Corp. whose operations would have a budget costing up to $500,000 per year.
The organization, governed by a board of directors and led by an executive director, would be charged with carrying out all aspects of a countywide strategy for jobs creation and growth.
The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday adopted such plans formally, nearly a year after severing ties with Saratoga Economic Development Corp. that previously handled these activities since 1978.
“This is Saratoga County’s plan,” said Supervisor Jack Lawler, of Waterford, county Economic Development Committee chairman. “This will be the true north for Saratoga County’s economic development for years to come.”
In addition to an executive director, the LDC would be staffed by a program coordinator and administrative assistant. However, there are no immediate plans for creating an LDC office, which would be subject to supervisors’ approval at a later date.
Lawler said recommendations for the LDC’s structure will likely be considered at the board’s next meeting in April.
“We have a couple options about what that might look like,” he said.
Another possibility, similar to an LDC, would be creating a public authority to oversee economic development.
The $500,000 the new initiative might cost annually is considerably more than the $300,000 to $400,000 the county had been giving SEDC.
“Economic development is too important to the taxpayers of Sartoga County without trying to put the necessary investment of resources into that effort,” Lawler said.
The new strategy would put considerable emphasis on agriculture and tourism in addition to business and industry. SEDC is primarily focused on the manufacturing sector.
County officials said last year that SEDC had not spurred enough job creation apart from GlobalFoundries at Luther Forest Technology Campus, an accusation that SEDC President Dennis Brobston strongly denied.
Brobston said Tuesday that SEDC is busy helping existing firms such as Mechanicville-based Polyset Company, which makes specialized silicones, expand exports overseas to places such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai. “We’ve been over with them,” Brobston said.
The new county plan, prepared by Austin, Texas-based TIP Strategies Inc., involved input from all supervisors and stakeholders representing key segments of the local economy.
“We took very seriously what you told us,” said Jon Roberts, TIP managing director and principal. “We also had to take seriously what the data told us.”
Last June, the county issued a request for proposals seeking a firm to create a new economic development strategy. TIP was hired in September and spent five months working on the plan, which included three visits to Saratoga County, getting input from local business and elected leaders, and touring key sites such as Luther Forest.
One visit was highlighted by three days of focus group meetings with people representing different sectors of the local economy such as agriculture, tourism, education and manufacturing.
While preparing its plan, TIP sought and considered public input obtained from an online questionnaire. The firm also met with representatives of National Grid, chambers of commerce, the county Industrial Development Agency, TEC-SMART, Empire State Development and the Center for Economic Growth.
Brobston said he met with TIP officials twice, to share information, although he was not invited to Tuesday’s formal adoption of the plan.
The LDC, once established, would be responsible for working with local government, business and economic development groups as members of a Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership. Board members would come from private business, higher education and economic development agencies.
An executive committee, of up to seven people, would include county supervisors and non-elected officials chosen from the board of directors that could have as many as 21 members. Additional advisory boards would be formed to help the board of directors work on specific projects.
The county’s new Economic Development Strategic Plan may be viewed at: www.saratogacountyny.gov.