By R.J. DeLuke The Saratoga Economic Development Corp. (SEDC) has been a driving force in the economic development in the area for more than four decades. Functioning as an independent, nonprofit group, its purpose is to create jobs and diversify the tax base. It is always examining what business or industry might be a...
BY PETE BARDUNIAS
For decades, Saratoga County has been blessed with multiple large organizations supporting economic development, including chambers of commerce, EDCs, local development agencies, IDAs, and more.
One of these, the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County (CSSC), was founded in 1967 to promote Clifton Park and Halfmoon, eventually providing support for the towns, villages and suburbs just north of the Mohawk River. By its 50th anniversary, the organization had grown to be in the top 10-12 percent of chambers statewide, despite still being the “small” chamber in Saratoga County.
Like many nonprofits in the past decade, the CSSC board evaluated potential partners for collaboration, affiliation or outright merger, culminating with affiliation into the 2600 member Capital Region Chamber in 2020, just weeks before the onset of the COVID pandemic.
As one of three large chambers making up the Capital Region Chamber (along with the eight-county Center for Economic Growth), the CSSC continues to be the official chamber of commerce of Clifton Park and Halfmoon, the administrator of the Saratoga County Community Development Program (funded in part by the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors) and the operator of the visitor center inside of the Clifton Park rest area at Northway Exit 8 that sees over 200,000 visitors annually.
It remains committed to supporting events such as the festivals in Waterford, the Great Upstate Boat Show, the Saratoga County Fair, Clifton Park July 4, movies, concerts and car show in the village of Ballston Spa, the Burnt Hills Flag Day parade, the Malta Business Community Alliance, and much more.
The Wilton Mall ownership and Paramount Development have proposed adding new multifamily housing to the shopping center property as part of its transformation from strictly a retail facility to a more community centric mixed-use destination.
The project includes 382 new luxury, market-rate rental residences, including both apartments and townhomes. The enhancement to the community will feature premium resident amenities and sophisticated design.
Officials said the $120 million investment in Wilton will drive significant new sales and property tax revenue for Saratoga County and the Town of Wilton.
The housing community’s new residents will translate to new customers spending money at the Wilton Mall as well as surrounding retail, restaurants and entertainment facilities.
According to the developers, recent years have seen unprecedented changes in the retail industry, requiring shopping malls to evolve in response or risk going out of business. In July 2007, Wilton Mall backfilled the former retail space with a grocery store and fitness center. It marked the first steps towards the mall’s mixed use evolution.
In 2018, Wilton Mall experienced two anchor store closings—Sears and Bon Ton. Within two years the Saratoga Hospital opened in the former Sears store. Now Wilton Mall has an opportunity to further expand upon its uses and plans to repurpose the former Bon Ton site with amenity-rich apartments and townhouses.
By Dennis Brobston
One of our beloved presidents, Abraham Lincoln, once said “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” That is our belief at Saratoga Economic Development Corp. (SEDC).
Creating Saratoga County’s economic development future has been our mission for over 43 years of existence. Working with SEDC to create our economic future are many partners: Saratoga County and local governments, Saratoga County businesses large and small, our Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs), universities and colleges and our K-12 school districts, to name a few. Over the last decade, SEDC and our stakeholders helped to create over 1,700 new jobs with over $170 million in payroll while retaining over 2,050 existing jobs at Saratoga County companies.
The year 2021 was another strange year as we all continued to adapt thru the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Like 2020, we were thrust into uncharted waters for supporting our existing businesses in Saratoga County while marketing our region for new and exciting companies looking for fertile ground to grow their businesses. And like 2020, this past year of 2021 proved to be another banner year delivering over $110 million in new investment while creating 182 new jobs and over $11.5 million in payroll.
Over the last two years, we have supported $232 million of investment creating over 629 jobs with over $38 million in new payroll while retaining 730 existing jobs. The years 2020 and 2021 are the first back-to-back years with more than $100 million investment in our 43-year history. We are thankful for all of the projects that allowed us to excel during this pandemic.
Promoting Saratoga County’s sites and buildings to site selectors across the country and throughout Europe will continue in 2022. Our efforts to create more product (pre-zoned sites and buildings) continue as we work with our municipalities eyeing this type of growth. “On spec” flex space is being built regularly in Saratoga County and the support of the Saratoga County IDA and the Town of Clifton Park IDA is vital to that continuing.
The rising costs of steel and building materials make it difficult to develop without the incentives our IDAs use to support new growth. Prospects require pre-approved sites and buildings in order to meet increasingly tight deadlines to produce and distribute products. We appreciate working with our planning boards and staff, property owners, developers and real estate associates as prospects look to us for guidance on efficient turnarounds for projects.
By Jim Siplon
It is certainly not news to say that the last two years of COVID have reshaped our area economy and the work we do to support it.
One of the often acknowledged aspects of the COVID era is the observation that the pandemic often exposed and accelerated shifts that were already underway but perhaps not yet fully understood. Our economy and its dynamic elements , things like an aging workforce and a lack of new housing, are perhaps the greatest example of this. Constructing the framework that will underpin the post-COVID economy requires us all to lean into this together-to understand and retool around the “Economy of Now.”
EDC Warren County has long been focused on the strategic work required to attracting, growing and retaining business for our community. Classically, this was a process built around enticing new business to locate here and utilize our workforce to run them. Our programs, incentives and resources were deployed primarily in ways designed to capture transitory or relocating business ventures.
While that work continues, it is transitioning before our eyes to a model that flips the traditional approach on its head. We are now in a competition for workforce, and those areas that have it will attract and grow the most successful business and economic entities while those that do not will struggle to build a sustainable economy.
This need for workforce is not new, in fact it has been building slowly in the demographics for years. Baby boomers are aging out, birth rates have declined and flight of our young has been going on for some time. But today this problem is not limited to the North Country or other less populated areas but is now almost universal.
By Christine Graf
For the past 12 months, the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership (SCPP) has helped more than 1,000 local businesses navigate challenges related to COVID-19. President and CEO Shelby Schneider said the organization hit the ground running during the early days of the pandemic.
The agency is not membership based and offers assistance to Saratoga County businesses of all sizes.
“We did a survey right away to help understand how the business community was being impacted by the shutdown and what sort of resources they considered to be critical. We also helped quantify how many jobs were being impacted,” she said. “This was the kind of information we were able to push up to our federal and state representatives so that they knew what the issues were. We were able to give them hard data on what the economic impact of the shutdown looked like for our business community.”
The Prosperity Partnership played a vital role in educating local business owners on the resources that were available to them, she said. They held multiple webinars related to Phase 1 of the economic stimulus package which included Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) loans.
“It’s critically important to work with our community, county, state, and federal government to understand federal stimulus packages and make sure we are communicating those to the business community,” said Schneider. “Businesses do what they do well, and navigating a gauntlet of regulatory environment or funding sources is not necessarily something they are aware of.”
By Christine Graf
For the past 42 years, Saratoga Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) has been a driving force for economic growth in Saratoga County. They have helped to generate more than 17,500 new jobs, $12 billion in investment, and $34 million in annual tax revenue for the county.
Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a successful year. The agency worked on 11 projects that resulted in investments of $121.3 million—more than the previous 4 years combined—and the creation and retention of over 1,100 jobs in the county.
SEDC focuses heavily on attracting manufacturing, warehouse and distribution and corporate headquarters to the area.
“We are looking for manufacturing of all kinds,” said SEDC President Dennis Brobston. “But we are precise in targeting companies that offer good paying jobs that are above the national average for the type of jobs we are looking at. We also want companies that have been in existence a long time or have good funding behind them and companies that want to be here long term–companies, like Ball Corp. and Quad Graphics, that are well funded and do a good job of taking care of their people.”
According to Brobston, Saratoga County is an ideal location for warehouse and distribution centers because it is within a day’s drive to just under 40 percent of the entire population of North America.
The Capital Region Chamber is accepting applications for the Leadership Tech Valley (LTV) Class of 2022.
With a network of more than 1,300 graduates, LTV unites individuals from diverse fields and backgrounds to learn more about themselves as leaders and how to best serve their organizations and community.
The program starts with a retreat in September, which includes leadership training, personal development, and team-building activities.
Eight subsequent sessions are held each month from October through May, followed by a graduation ceremony. The monthly sessions are themed around various elements of our community to serve as a catalyst for expanding awareness in economic development, community service, leadership, diversity & inclusion, education, government, community health and arts & culture.
Each session offers a unique opportunity for participants to have an inside look at some of the area’s most innovative organizations; connect to top business, government and civic leaders; and enhance their professional networks.
By Andrea Harwood Palmer
Mandi Marra began her property preservation company out of Ballston Spa four years ago.
“It’s a complicated business. It’s an ever-evolving industry,” said Marra.
The company manages bank owned assets such as foreclosures. M&K Preservation acts as a third party to the bank that owns the foreclosed property, contracting with national mortgage field companies such as Mortgage Contracting Services LLC. They are the eyes and the ears for the company out in the field.
Marra began her career working in the back office of a friend who owned a similar company in a different region.
“I was really inspired by her and the work she did. She taught me how to navigate everything, and I decided to give it a shot for myself,” said Marra. Marra works within an hour radius of Ballston Spa, and works with different national mortgage field companies, to avoid any semblance of competition between the two businesses.
Over time, the company grew to include seven other employees and five company vehicles out on the road. Marra employs her own contractors full time. Each are supplied with a company work truck.
The Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, a Saratoga County-based economic development organization, unveiled the MaltaWorks $20.21 Campaign, a promotion designed to help drive traffic to small businesses in Malta that have been fighting to stay open while battling the economic impacts of COVID-19.
The program is being done in partnership with the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce and the Malta Economic Development Committee. The effort is assisted by a grant awarded to the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership by the GlobalFoundries and the Town of Malta Foundation.
Customers participating in the MaltaWorks $20.21 program can enter to win weekly giveaways by simply spending at least $20.21 at a small business in the Town of Malta, then emailing a copy of their receipt to email@example.com.
Each week, MaltaWorks $20.21 will randomly choose the winners of a $100 and $50 gift certificates. At the end of nine weeks, all participants will be entered into a drawing to win the grand prize of a $500 gift certificate at a business of their choice in the Town of Malta.
The program runs through May 2.