By Dennis a. Brobston
Saratoga County is poised to continue as one of the bright economic spots in Upstate New York in 2014 and for more than one reason.
The county unemployment rate and the county portion of real property taxes are some of the lowest in the entire state and housing starts are projected to climb for the fifth year in a row. These stats are not normal for New York state and prove what can happen when proper planning is done and conservative financial constraint is practiced.
Saratoga Economic Development Corporation’s (SEDC) mission is to create jobs and diversify the tax base while improving the quality of life for the residents of Saratoga County. We accomplish this through the retention of existing business, attraction of new industry, and improving our product: Saratoga County.
As the first point of contact for economic development in Saratoga County, our focus on manufacturing, distribution, corporate headquarters, energy, technology and large office projects has created over 17,500 direct jobs and over $11 billion in investment in our 35-year history. These 280-plus projects pay over $34 million annually in property taxes to municipalities and school districts across the county.
Our job growth in 2014 will again be significant. Job creation at GlobalFoundries should reach another 1,000 employees to staff the new Technology Development Center on their property in the Luther Forest Technology Campus. Supply chain support for the semiconductor industry will continue to locate here.
Projects already approved will be started in 2014 in Clifton Park, Saratoga Springs, and Mechanicville. These projects alone will create over 70 direct jobs and over 400 construction jobs.
As more business comes to Saratoga County, further investment follows in the growth of additional services and retail jobs. An example is around the Town of Malta. The Ellsworth Commons residential and commercial project on Route 9, the Malta Med Emergent Care in the Saratoga Medical Park at Northway Exit 12, the Bluth Building (mixed use) on Route 9, and the 20 Tech Trail building in the Saratoga Technology & Energy Park were all built due to the need for services and support for new business investment.
The financial investment of these projects totaled more than $80 million and created hundreds of construction jobs.
SEDC continues to work with existing companies as they look to grow their customer base and cut costs. If the financial forecasters are correct and interest rates slowly increase, companies may find it difficult to invest in new equipment and/or brick and mortar improvements. Utilizing New York state economic development incentive programs will be vital in supporting these businesses.
As SEDC works with these companies in assessing costs associated with utility rates and real property taxes, it is imperative to partner with our industrial development agencies and find new and creative ways to retain jobs as well as induce new job growth in our existing employers.
A real challenge in 2014 will be to study the electric infrastructure and natural gas supplies of our entire region. These two items can hold back growth due to limitations in availability and distribution. As SEDC continues to market to manufacturers and large power users, understanding the capability of the Capital Region’s infrastructure to provide timely growth and adequate amounts of electricity and/or natural gas to future prospects will be crucial to further development.
The year 2014 will produce positive results for Saratoga County as long as we continue to work hard, understand our position in the marketplace and listen to the needs of our existing businesses.
More change will occur as we adapt to our new role as a hub for the semiconductor electronics industry. Saratoga County’s ability to endure the peaks and valleys of the global economy as a leader in economic development remains in our grasp. Let’s take full advantage of our assets.