By Marty Vanags, CEcD
In 2018, Saratoga County continued to be one of the fastest-growing counties in New York state, and for good reason. With an educated workforce, companies from diverse industry sectors, and a vibrant quality of place, we possess all the attributes that make our community a great investment for businesses and residents.
Our future is bright, but it is important that we continue to work with the public and private sectors to promote and plan for long-term growth. This means investing in economic development infrastructure, developing our workforce, attracting talent, and encouraging our companies to innovate and invest in Saratoga County.
Laying the foundation for future growth is the key to maintaining our economic prosperity today and long into the future.
Throughout 2018, the Saratoga Partnership marketed Saratoga County to businesses and site selectors throughout the world. We met with more than 75 companies and 60 site selectors to educate them on why Saratoga County is the ideal location for expansion. The Saratoga Partnership is why Saratoga County was successful in siting New York state’s largest battery storage project, Key Capture Energy project in Stillwater.
Through assistance by the Partnership, Proctors-Universal Preservation Hall is transforming a former church in Saratoga Springs into a year-round, world-class arts and cultural venue in downtown Saratoga.
The Saratoga Partnership is working with the Ellms Family Farm to create an agritainment venue and farm incubator project. The Saratoga Partnership’s pipeline of projects currently include over 37 companies that are considering investing and growing in Saratoga County. This pipeline represents over 1,200 jobs and $110 million in capital investment. Saratoga County is ripe for new investment and we anticipate more to come in 2019.
Although Saratoga County’s economy is strong, our businesses aren’t immune to changes in our local and global economy. With low unemployment rates and a high workforce participation rate (68 percent of the workforce is working), our businesses are being challenged to find talent and fill in skills gaps left by baby boomers retiring from the workforce.
This issue is not unique to Saratoga County. In 2018, the national unemployment rate—at 3.7 percent in November—sits near a 50-year low. Economist Hugh Johnson recently cautioned that our workforce shortage will impact economic output and new job growth if it is not addressed through workforce development.
In January, we will be launching the first-ever Computer Coding workforce development program in Saratoga County in partnership with Albany Can Code, SUNY ADK and SUNY Schenectady. This program will train Saratoga County residents for high-paying tech job opportunities and fill the talent pipeline.
The Saratoga Partnership will also launch Circles of 7 (C7) mentorship program to provide critical strategic business assistance to drive the success of entrepreneurs in Saratoga County. We will continue to work with our partners at SCORE, the SBA, Innovate518, CEG, and SUNY ADK, to deliver innovative tools that support the needs of our small businesses and spark the spirit of budding entrepreneurs.
To help our local communities plan for the future, the Saratoga Partnership has launched the Next Wave Communities program to assist local towns within Saratoga County in developing custom-tailored economic development plans. In 2018, the town of Moreau became the inaugural Next Wave Community and we look forward to helping more communities throughout Saratoga County plan for a brighter future.
Heading into the new year, the Saratoga Partnership is prepared to assist our business community with these disruptions in global markets and grow their businesses. Through our Global Markets Advisory service led by Mary Estelle Ryckman, companies can draw on her 30 years of expertise in negotiating international trade agreements and supporting global commerce in Washington D.C.
The Saratoga Partnership team is poised to assist Saratoga County businesses and work hand in hand with our communities to lay the groundwork for future business growth.
Our unique quality of life makes Saratoga County an ideal location to attract and retain talent and help our employers fill the jobs that exist today. However, maintaining and expanding economic prosperity cannot be taken for granted.
The Saratoga Partnership’s public-private model is one which is replicated and used around the world to conduct economic development and will result in a strong economy in 2019 and beyond.