by Susan E. Campbell
“Our mission is to help the private sector secure jobs and capital investment,” said the new chairman of Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership (SCPP) board of directors.
Kevin M. Hedley, named recently to succeed Jack Lawler, said the agency’s board “has entrusted me to make sure the mission is carried out by our hired team of professionals and that we hold them accountable.”
As a taxpayer, a resident and a business owner, Hedley appreciates the opportunity to lend his voice to decisions regarding the future of Saratoga County and its economic development, he said. He is founder and partner of Hedley & Co. Certified Public Accountants in Clifton Park.
“Economic development is a collaborative effort,” he said. “Our role is to assist and to act as an access point. Nothing we do takes away from any one group we work with.”
Those groups include such organizations as the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce, Southern Saratoga Chamber of Commerce, Luther Forest Technology Campus, and the Saratoga Industrial Development Agency (IDA), as well as business and professional associations throughout the county.
“I was, and still am, on the Saratoga County Chamber board and thought it would be good to have a connection between the Chamber and the Partnership, to be a voice for my business and my clients,” Hedley said. “Now we have two individuals on both boards, and I think this is a good thing for helping all businesses in the county, small and large alike, to grow and prosper.
“There is a wonderful community here in Saratoga County and I want to be able to help to make sure that continues.”
As chairman, Hedley sees his role as a leader, not a manager, and said his tenure will be marked by “a willingness to listen, learn and implement.” He believes every board member should also be a strong advocate for the organization.
“I will continue to focus on the important work of the organization and what we are doing for the overall economic health of the county. I want to make sure that we have a sustainable, long-term plan in place for economic development that goes beyond tax incentives,” he said. “So, I will focus on how all organizations with the same goals can collaborate and cooperate to further those goals.
“Most importantly I will make sure that all voices, public and private, are heard and accounted for.”
SCPP recently invited some employers and agencies to talk about the difficulty attracting labor and getting the word out about jobs, he said. It generated some immediate reaction and from the supervisors in the room, said Hedley, and was “a wonderful example of how the partnership can work.”
Hedley pointed to a few SCPP success stories in such areas as the environment, craft brewing, and historic preservation.
The Partnership assisted Land Remediation, a Waterford-based company, in navigating the IDA application process. This company is an example of a home-grown business that is helping solve environmental problems.
SCPP also assisted the owner of Szub Grain Hub, a project that involves construction of a grain hub in the town of Moreau to grow, harvest, process, package and ship grains to in-state craft brewers and distillers in eastern New York state, providing greater access to state-produced grains for craft beverage producers and increased market opportunities for grain farmers. The Partnership continues to work with the owner on their future plans for their site.
SCPP assisted the owners of two Saratoga Springs businesses, R.S. Taylor and Sons Taproom and Upstate Distillers, with obtaining and securing small business loans through the city’s revolving loan fund.
Alliances have been formed with SEMI, the international trade organization for the semiconductor industry, and the Global Semiconductor Alliance.
The SCPP worked with Universal Preservation Hall managers to secure an IDA incentive package that was required in order to secure historic preservation tax credits. The performance venue is in the midst of a major renovation.
“This sort of project is so important to the quality of life we have here,” Hedley said. “We need to continue to support such projects because as we continue to attract new investments in our county, those investors are looking for a quality of life for themselves and their employees.”
Looking ahead, Hedley anticipates continued growth and prosperity.
“We foresee some short-term growth and opportunities for the county, some of which we hope to be able to announce soon,” he said. “We will continue to focus on long-term development and to work with the county board of supervisors, as well as collaborative efforts with others in the county, to continue to grow the Saratoga area economically.”
About half of the budget for SCPP comes from a stream of funding through the hotel/motel tax. In 2015, a state law was passed that created a mechanism for the Partnership to receive approximately $450,000 annually. The remainder of the overall $800,000 budget comes from funds in the Saratoga County budget, as well as sponsorships it gets for some of its programs and events. Last year that amount was approximately $65,000.
For more information about Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, visit saratogapartnership.org.