By Dennis Brobston
As the national economy continues to grow, unemployment declines and wages increase, our business membership driven organization is focused on seeding future investment, talent and workforce alignment to support jobs of the future.
We collaborated with the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership (SCPP) to agree to non-duplicative, complementary roles to support area community and economic development needs respectively. The result led to Saratoga County re-engaging SEDC for 2020 as a marketing contractor to entice new investment, entrepreneurs and foreign investment within our communities to help generate job and wage growth.
Thanks to our member investors and business partners, SEDC saw progress made against two of our Advance Saratoga strategic initiatives. Our five-year strategy stressed creating more inventory of permitted space to locate new employers and attract investment as well as attracting and keeping corporate headquarters.
In Saratoga Springs, Airosmith Development, Inc. is building its own expanded corporate headquarters, investing $3.7 million to retain 51 jobs and add nine jobs. The Saratoga County IDA helped support its investment with a tax abatement agreement. In Clifton Park, the Center for Security expanded into Saratoga County and the investment, supported by the Clifton Park IDA, is helping to add 50 high-wage jobs.
The Clifton Park-based Synergy Tech Park was announced with MJ Properties, Inc. in 2018 and got underway in 2019 by developing the infrastructure to access its 1 million square feet of approved space. Now, they’ve landed a major regional U-Haul Company center fronting the east side of the Northway between exits 9 and 10. Their $10 million-plus investment creates 10 jobs, opening in 2020 and activates this great Saratoga County asset to accommodate commercial office, service and light manufacturing/distribution space.
The Shaker Group relocated to Saratoga County in the Town of Waterford, buying the former Grand Union/Price Chopper freezer building. They invested $6 million, moving 63 jobs to their new headquarters/warehouse/distribution facility and will create 12 new jobs. This reactivates a building recently used only as a warehouse with no full-time employees into a vibrant job producing center.
To capitalize on the success of Saratoga County in recent decades, we listened to early stage and existing company leaders and established the County’s only incubator and accelerator, Spark Saratoga, in April 2017. To help attract and retain talent, it offers advisory services and referrals to proven business experts to prepare for growth, to evaluate capital needs and options and to encourage collaboration with existing proven business partners.
In its short history, Spark Saratoga has already supported 70 companies. For 2020, Spark Saratoga is launching its 2.0 version to include access to proven mentors, nationwide, curated business experts and a means to engage via a 24-7 accessible collaborative web-based platform. This will enable more access to solutions impeding business growth. The goals include more thought-leadership engagement and access to proven mentors to help guide early businesses through critical capital, human resource, customer acquisition and other core business needs.
Part of our Spark Saratoga efforts and focus on planting seeds to spur future economic growth with high wage jobs includes attracting next generation Electronic Design Innovation Initiative (pronounced EDI squared – EDI2) to design the powerful semiconductor chips. These sophisticated electrical circuits support most major industry sectors use of data powering our information age economy.
In addition to our regional and national partners, we secured the support of Silicon Valley based Cadence Software. They will provide reduced rate access to multi-million dollar powerful software tools in conjunction with support from higher educational institutions generating new electrical engineering talent. Clarkson University, now being joined by Cornell University, are early supporters of developing education and supporting design using Cadence’s software tools.
We will continue to pursue with our development partners a permanent location for this innovation center at the South Broadway gateway to Saratoga Springs. This will enable an attractive live, work, play environment to entice innovators for the EDI2 and other Spark Saratoga supported entrepreneur teams to develop their next businesses here.
We also seeded initial opportunities in Ireland in 2019 to entice proven businesses coming to evaluate investing in Saratoga County to expand operations and access to the U.S. market. We are grateful for our partners at National Grid supporting this initial foreign direct investment outreach and look forward to showcasing our workforce, available commercial sites and market opportunities to Irish businesses.
As we look at the start of another decade, SEDC is pleased to retain the support of so many business and community leaders. We are seeding key sites in our communities, workforce and innovator talent to encourage expanded investment and job creation in Saratoga County.
We are grateful to have our member investor backing, for the collaborative spirit that has led to clearly defined roles with SCPP and to provide marketing support from the County to help deliver economic results.
By Dennis Brobston