By Dennis Brobston
Here we are again at the start of a new year, but nothing was like last year, right? 2020 is over and while it was a strange and upsetting year, it did present many businesses with opportunities.
We were thrust into unknowns and our businesses proved responsive with resilience to quickly regroup and rebound beyond their own expectations of abilities. Many SEDC members provided vital supplies to other industries to keep their workforce and worksites safe.
For Saratoga Economic Development Corporation (SEDC), it was the busiest year since the days of 2009.
Why 2009? That was when GlobalFoundries broke ground and our attraction efforts were immersed in the semiconductor industry! And since 2009, in addition to GlobalFoundries and the industry awakening in our region, an additional 15,000 jobs of all types were created in Saratoga County.
Saratoga County has to experience continued business and job growth in order to raise the finances to support the services our residents have come to rely upon and deserve. The successful past efforts of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, our cities, towns and villages have paid dividends in keeping our county the lowest taxed in New York state.
Our continued partnership with the Saratoga County, Clifton Park and Mechanicville-Stillwater IDAs provides the local support to entice retention and the creation of jobs. In our 43 year existence, SEDC helped over 300 companies grow here in Saratoga County.
SEDC’s efforts in 2020 produced more investment for Saratoga County than the previous four years combined! $121.3 million of investment retained 447 jobs and enabled the creation of 698 new jobs. The new payroll added to Saratoga County will amount to over $26.7 million per year (since 2009 Saratoga County’s total industry wages grew from $2.9 billion to $4.8 billion EOY 2019).
The new year brings new opportunities and challenges as we continue to experience shutdowns and slowdowns due to COVID-19. Whether we like it or not, we have to embrace the changes this pandemic has created. All of us also have to aggressively make adjustments or fix problems that are exacerbated by this pandemic.
We use this time to engage with our members, community leaders, elected officials and beyond to be best informed, share vital information, connect companies for supplies, workforce, programs, etc. Simultaneously, we will stay in constant contact with site selectors, corporation leaders, realtors etc. to showcase various properties available, including SEDC’s SEE Saratoga site listings.
Advanced technologies and materials continue to look to the Northeast United States for locations to grow. Our marketing efforts and demographics always get us into the attraction game. A highly educated workforce, adequately zoned sites and local incentives are reasons we receive many inquiries and site visits.
Our energy infrastructure continues to be troublesome in Saratoga County. Supply of natural gas and limits on electric capacity hinders our efforts, not only in attraction but also expansion and retention of existing companies.
COVID-19 has slowed the process dramatically but we don’t give up easily. In lieu of over 30 companies coming to Saratoga in July 2020, we held a three-day virtual conference, comprised of regional and statewide partners, to showcase Saratoga County and New York state.
This proved as effective as having the delegation here, as we had over 100 business leaders from across Ireland and New York City learn how easy it is to locate here and how welcoming and capable our stakeholders are to assist.
Currently, we have over 10 businesses interested in visiting our area as soon as the travel restrictions are lifted. Furthermore, we are currently working with over 16 Ireland based businesses, in various stages of expansion/product launches.
The U.S. and Irish embassies, along with proven organizations mentioned above, are partners in progressing this program. In 2021, these efforts will continue, albeit via phone or zoom meetings, to secure Saratoga County as a final consideration for Ireland investments in life sciences, equine, advanced materials and food and beverage processing expansions coming to the U.S.
We will virtually be showcasing sites, connecting to professional partners and connecting many of the management services for market launches.
Our clients are getting smarter as they look to grow. The internet, with all its videos, digitized brochures, audio files and plethora of information educates them. They want answers fast and get impatient when answers to their inquiries take too long.
The world is automating faster than we can understand. SEDC works very hard to be a part of this fast-moving, knowledge-based world to perform our mission: to create jobs and diversify the tax base while improving the quality of life for the residents of Saratoga County.
By Dennis Brobston