By Todd L. Shimkus
Instead of a prognostication of what might happen, I’m going to focus on what I am reasonably certain will happen that will help our local economy to continue to succeed, grow and thrive in 2019.
In other words, here’s a few specific ACTIONS we look forward to taking in 2019:
• Cutting a ribbon to open Intrada Saratoga, a mixed-use housing development that will provide 158 units of affordable housing, near the junction of Washington Street and West Avenue in Saratoga Springs. We need workforce housing in Saratoga Springs so local employers can retain and attract employees who want to live and work in the same community.
• Breaking ground on the Flat Rock Centre project that will provide badly needed parking for the Saratoga Springs City Center, as well as downtown businesses. Beyond parking, Flat Rock Centre will include a section of the Saratoga Greenbelt Trail as well as a significant park and open space for a range of activities.
• Getting a final determination and cost estimate on what it will take to restore the Old Champlain Canal tow path in Schuyerville. The restoration of this 1.5-mile waterway, along what will soon be the Empire State Trail, has the potential to become a year-round recreational destination in Schuylerville. Imagine paddle boarding, kayaking or ice skating on this historic, short, meandering waterway that connects Fort Hardy Park with Hudson Crossing Park.
• Building the Empire State Trail with funding from Gov. Andrew Cuomo that will provide cyclists with new options and trails that will go from New York City to Buffalo and Canada. The trail will run through Saratoga County in Schuylerville, Stillwater, Mechanicville, Halfmoon and Waterford. If we could finally get New York state to pay Amtrak to allow bikes on trains, we’d have a whole new tourism market segment—adventure cyclists—that we could invite to Saratoga County from New York City and Montreal.
• Creating a new partnership that will make it easier for local events across Saratoga County to be promoted. We have so many amazing events that take place across Saratoga County every week of the year and this partnership hopes to make it easier for residents and visitors to find out what is going on so they can participate.
• Growing participation in Saratoga County’s FAVOR program that enables local businesses to offer discounts to local veterans. With the Saratoga County Clerk Craig Hayner and Saratoga County’s Veterans Agency, our Chamber’s Veterans Business Council wants to do everything we can to establish Saratoga County as one of the best places to live if you are a veteran.
• Finding more volunteers to become volunteer advisors in our SCORE Small Business program. Our current volunteers help an average of 65 new businesses to startup or expand every year. It’s one of the Top 10 SCORE programs in the U.S. With more volunteers, we can provide even more free confidential counseling to help local people startup or grow their own business.
• Teaching local employees to become better leaders and managers within their current organizations. We’re doing this for the first-time ever in collaboration with SUNY Empire State College and the Saratoga County Capital Resource Corp. via a program we’re calling the Saratoga County Institute for Management. This program is designed to help your best employees to learn the skills they’ll need and you’ll need to succeed, grow and thrive.
• Hosting more Facebook Live workshops on a range of topics of value to local organizations on issues like using LinkedIn to increase sales, business succession planning, protecting your business from cyber-attacks and more.
• Inviting members to our range of networking events that have a proven track record of helping attendees to generate powerful business connections. We have leads groups, business development groups, breakfasts, lunches and networking mixers. We’re moving our popular networking mixers to Wednesdays, starting on Feb. 27, to reduce the competition for everyone’s time and to make it easier to participate.
• Advocating in opposition to expanding state government’s control over employee scheduling, as well as opposition to eliminating the tip credit to support our local restaurants. We’re hosting a Legislative breakfast to address these and other matters on Jan. 18.
Of course, there is a lot more ACTION planned in our effort to open doors and close deals. We believe membership in the Saratoga County Chamber is an investment in the future, built on our 101 years of success.