By Tara Anne Pleat
After two years of shifting pandemic protocols and restrictions on business operations, hope abounds that 2022 is the year when the business community can focus on recovery and growth instead of survival.
We are fortunate to live in a resilient community with elected leadership who understand the needs and value of the county’s local businesses. We are fortunate to live in a community that has loyal customers who helped keep many small businesses afloat.
We are fortunate to have the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, which under the leadership of Kevin Hedley and Skip Carlson together with President Todd Shimkus was relentless in communications, promotions, outreach, and advocacy.
We now look to 2022 in Saratoga County with optimism. The Town of Malta is home to the headquarters of GlobalFoundries and the world’s most advanced semiconductor manufacturing facility. The construction of Fab 8 started in 2009 and propelled our area out of recession. With plans for more investments and talk of a second plant, GlobalFoundries may just lead our recovery again.
The Town of Halfmoon is now home to the Impact Athletic Center. This facility has the potential to significantly expand Saratoga’s youth sports tourism industry. With each new tournament our area will see teams, players, parents, coaches, and others stay in local hotels and dine in local restaurants. Finding ways to continue to market the county’s existing sports venues and invest in new ventures will help our hospitality sector to recover.
The U.S. Navy is nearing completion of the modernization of its facilities at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in Ballston Spa. When this is done, Saratoga County will see an influx of Navy shipmen into our local economy as they train here to operate nuclear power plants onboard our Navy’s aircraft carriers and submarines. While stationed here, these shipmen rent local apartments, purchase local goods and services, and often volunteer to support local projects.
We are seeing workforce housing being built or planned in Ballston, Malta, Corinth, and Saratoga Springs. We are seeing CDTA invest in improving public transportation with their new Flex service in Mechanicville, Halfmoon and Malta. Building more workforce housing and expanding public transportation will help to ensure more people can live and work in local communities across Saratoga County.
As chair of the Chamber’s board of directors in 2022 and as part of our expansive community recovery efforts, my goal is to bring back some of the Chamber’s most influential programming. First and foremost, is Leadership Saratoga.
Leadership Saratoga has over 500 alumni who are volunteer leaders helping more than 150 local impact sector organizations. Leadership Saratoga readies it’s graduates for community and board service, and now is a time where that service is needed in spades.
In the coming year the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce will seek to help local employers challenged by the labor shortage. There are no short-term fixes, but there are opportunities to consider.
For example, we can reconnect local employers with agencies like AIM Services, Saratoga Bridges, and Living Resources. These organizations have a pool of local talent looking for job placements. Years ago, the Chamber hosted job fairs to help connect the workforce supported by these agencies with employment opportunities and there is no reason we can’t do this again.
The Chamber is also exploring how to use our expertise in communications, digital advertising, and use of social media platforms to attract talent to work in Saratoga County.