By Denis Brobston
As we reflect on 2012 and attempt to forecast
the economy in Saratoga County in 2013, I can’t
help but be grateful for our past successes
because we would be much worse off if we did
not have them.
This year is SEDC’s 35th anniversary and
an opportune time to reflect on where we have
been and where we are going in the future. In
Saratoga County we don’t day trade, we invest
for the long term and the investments we
have made over the past 35 years are paying
off today in tax base, quality jobs and a quality
of life unmatched in the rest of upstate New
York. We are lucky but that doesn’t mean we
can stop now. In 2013, we need to get back to
the drawing board and lay out the framework
for building on our success.
Looking ahead, we are being told by national economists to expect a weak year in the global economy but they say that there are reasons to be optimistic, especially towards the end of 2013. The natural gas boom, record profit margins, a friendlier credit market for small businesses, along with pent-up demand for autos and other big purchases, could in combination pave the way for growth and jobs that our economy needs.
Our first job is to make sure our existing companies have the resources they need to adapt to the changes in the global economy and take advantage of new local business opportunities. Many of our large manufacturers are still impacted by the recession but as the national and global economy improves, we can expect to see new jobs and a brighter outlook. GlobalFoundries is expected to be in full production in 2013.
Semiconductor sales are seeing rare gains and the Capital Region is now seen as one of the top regions worldwide to locate semiconductor manufacturing. In 2012, more building permits were issued in the Capital Region than in any other metropolitan area in the state, not counting the New York City-northern New Jersey-Long Island area. In the Capital Region, Saratoga County led those permits and a housing boom can be directly attributed to the “GlobalFoundries effect” as families migrate to the area. In 2013, we expect that this trend will continue.
In 2012, QUAD Graphics lost a major contract as Newsweek announced it would discontinue printing its weekly magazine. QUAD quickly recovered with the announcement that it reached a $900 million-plus agreement with Time Inc. to handle 85 percent of the print work for the publisher.
Not only is this good news for the company, headquartered in Wisconsin, but it means longevity for the Saratoga Springs plant. SEDC will continue to work with them to encourage new investment, keep costs low and ensure long term viability. As these large economic engines continue to thrive and the credit market relaxes for small businesses, we anticipate more opportunity for small business growth throughout Saratoga County.
The natural gas boom is also benefiting Saratoga County in ways we haven’t seen in decades. Historically, New York state has had some of the highest gas and electricity costs in the nation. Because of growing supplies of shale gas, the price of natural gas in New York is falling.
Cheap gas is also putting downward pressure on electricity prices, as natural-gas fired power plants produce a greater share of the electricity. This is great news for our manufacturers, large institutions and government users that consume quantities of natural gas and electricity. Where we are still lacking in eastern New York is adequate transmission level service to the region, which put a strain on demand costs.
Governor Andrew Cuomo recently appointed a task force to improve energy transmission in the state and remove bottlenecks. In 2013, we hope to see action on the state level and SEDC will be working in partnership with our utilities, National Grid and NYSEG, to identify our high volume electricity and natural gas needs in sites throughout Saratoga County. Along with infrastructure expansion, now is the time to improve our inventory of preapproved sites and buildings.
We anticipate a continued influx of high-tech manufacturing and we need to go back to the drawing board to get sites prepared and approvals in place to quickly get a shovel in the ground and a building ready for occupancy. In the long term, this means jobs and tax base for our communities. Throughout 2013, SEDC will be working in partnership with our developers, property owners and local communities to get our industrial sites shovel ready.
In 2013, expect to see continued partnership and cooperation between SEDC, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau, the five Saratoga County Industrial Development Agencies, Empire State Development, CEG and others to maintain the upward trend of growth and prosperity in Saratoga County.
Photo Courtesy of Chamber of Southern Saratoga County