By Maureen Werther
The WJ Grande Industrial Park continues to be an economic driver in the region nearly 70 years after it was first developed by its namesake, William J. Grande.
In the early 1950s, Grande purchased approximately 550 acres on Cady Hill in Saratoga Springs, adjacent to the D&H Railroad. The lifelong developer and philanthropist envisioned Cady Hill Research and Industrial Park, as it was originally named, as a vehicle for creating sustainable employment locally, as well as creating a revenue base for the county.
Grande’s acquisition proved to be as beneficial for the region as he had envisioned, with a succession of businesses moving into the park over the course of several decades.
General Foods was the first company to locate in the park in 1959. They employed over 200 people for more than three decades. During the 1960s and 1970s, several small regional companies located in the park, and in the 1980s Guyson, American Tissue, Quad Graphics and Ball Corp. became tenants of the park. Ball, Quad and Guyson are still fully operational and have steadily employed more than 1,500 people since they located there.
In the 1990s, Logistics One took tenancy in the Park and from 2000-2010, Serotta Competition Bicycles, Unlimited Potential, Slack Chemical, Ryder, Saratoga Eagle Sales and Service and the Saratoga Schools bus garage all built facilities and moved into the Park, creating several hundred more jobs.
In late 2009, John and Michael Munter, owners of Munter Enterprises and Munter Land Holdings, a construction and real estate development company that has been in business since 1972, purchased all remaining vacant land in the park from the WJ Grande memorial trust, a decision that has continued to bear economic fruit.
Prior to the acquisition, Munter owned over 250,000 square feet of warehouse lease space and provided construction services for many of the companies located in the park. John Munter said that, since acquiring the vacant land, they have actively worked with interested companies to locate them in Saratoga County.
“The Saratoga County IDA and SEDC have been extremely supportive with all potential retention and attraction opportunities, prior to and since our acquisition,” said Munter.
From 2010 to the present, Leonard Bus, Greenfield Manufacturing, PeroxyChem, AgroChem, and SKS Bottle and Packaging have come to the Park. SKS will open in the fall. These companies, combined, have created several hundred more jobs.
Munter said the several thousand jobs and large tax base created by the Grande Industrial Park “has been an extremely strong facet of the Saratoga County economy. The large tax base helps to keep taxes down for all residents and the jobs created help keep local property values high due to close to home jobs. Not to mention the ancillary jobs created by companies that support the industrial park-based facilities. For example, lawn and parking lot maintenance, janitorial, construction, IT support, building maintenance, etc.”
The presence of WJ Grande Industrial Park in Saratoga County has had an “unmeasurable positive effect on all Saratoga County residents,” added Munter.
Munter Enterprises plans to maintain an “open door” policy for future strong companies that wish to locate or expand into the park. There are still over 100 vacant acres still available for development.
Munter noted that, although it may not be recognized by many residents as an important component of the Saratoga County economy it very much is. “Many things make Saratoga a great place to live, one of them is the industrial park due to the thousands of jobs and positive effect on the regional tax base.”
He said most of the businesses located in the park give back significantly to the local community through initiatives such as blood drives, food drives, donations to local nonprofits and charities and service on many local nonprofit boards.
“The founder (Grande) had a vision that has no doubt made Saratoga stronger since the industrial park’s inception. We are happy to be at the helm of keeping it strong in to the future,” he said.