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Displaying items by tag: Marty Vanags

BALLSTON SPA — With the help of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, Garth Ellms, proprietor of Ellms Family Farm, plans to turn 80 acres of Farmland into an agri- tainment destination called The Saratoga Farm Hub. Ellms acquired the property located at 284 Middleline Rd. in Ballston Spa on June 1 of this year. Plans include a commercial kitchen, small parcels of land that farmers can lease, an event space, a brewery, a winery, farmers’ market and overnight glamping (glamorous camping).

While conversations have been had between Ellms, Marty Vanags and the Town of Ballston’s Planning Department, nothing formal has been done. Ellms’ projects the true launch date for the project will be in May or June of 2020. For now, a flyer for the project reads: “The Saratoga Farm Hub is the ideal cohesive community: a synergistic and innovative farmtopia supporting an agricultural and social mission for the greater good of growth and development of the land, local businesses and the communities surrounding them.”

“Through a series of conversations that the Saratoga Prosperity Partnership, they started the conversation regardingsome needs after multiple surveys... That’s where, to an extent, this was born. It was a partial idea from them and the rest was kind of dreamed up by Kimmy Jaski and myself,” Ellms said.

“We’re just trying to incubate product that is locally grown and hope that over time to be able to facilitate those businesses’ needs. You know marketing, accounting, whatever and watch it grow,” he added.

For the commercial kitchen, Ellms plans to rent the space to local producers by the hour for as long as they needed to create some sort of food product. Ellms hope that the farm leased plots will encourage producers to use the planned to start some sort of business with what is grown. The plots will range in size from a half an acre to five acres.

“We did a Feasibility study of whether or not a community kitchen would work in Saratoga County... We found that there is a need for that kind of space and so when Garth came to us and said he’s buying this property and he’s looking for what kind of opportunities could exist there, this was one of the things we suggested to him,” said Marty Vanags, President of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership.

To pay for this venture the Saratoga Partnership helped Ellms fill out a Consolidated Funding Application, which they will find out about in late November or early December.

“We’re going to look at other opportunities whether other grants and potentially other tax incentives because this will be a job producer,” Vanags said.

The two anticipate that the project will produce over 100 jobs once it is completed. Over time, both Vanags and Ellms hope even more jobs will be created from the small businesses that will grow from the commercial kitchen and farmland plots.

Published in Business

SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Sept. 26 Key Capture Energy LLC, held a groundbreaking ceremony for the KCE NY 1 facility. The KCE NY 1 facility is a 20 megawatt (MW) utility-scale battery storage project, located at the Luther Forest Technology Campus. The Groundbreaking took place at 30 Substation Rd. in Saratoga Springs.

The project is the largest lithium-ion battery storage project in New York State and supports Governor Cuomo’s commitment for the state to reach 1,500 MW of energy storage by 2025. In addition to enabling the creation of 25 construction jobs and nine full-time positions, the facility will provide clean energy to enhance power grid performance and reliability, addressing the needs of advanced technology companies and promoting further economic and job growth in Saratoga County.

“We are glad to initiate construction of our KCE NY 1 project,” said Dan Fitzgerald, Chief Development Officer of Key Capture Energy.

“We are fully committed to supporting the Governor’s vision for an aggressive Clean Energy Standard, as well as to bringing local jobs and energy storage solutions to New York State, starting right here in Saratoga County. We thank the Town of Stillwater, Saratoga County, Luther Forest Technology Campus, the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, the Mechanicville- Stillwater Industrial Development Agency, NYISO, and NYSEG for their support and collaboration to help move this important project forward,” he added.

As previously reported, according to Fitzgerald, the project will be completely built and operational by the end of January in 2019 and is private equity backed. Fitzgerald also noted that the installation at Luther Forest will be situated behind natural land rises and tucked away behind trees so it will not be visible to the naked eye.

Key Capture Energy worked with the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, the county’s designated economic development agency, to secure incentives to enable the project to move forward. Key Capture Energy is an energy storage development company focused on becoming the leading east- coast independent developer for utility-scale battery storage projects being responsive to needs of an intermittent grid. Key Capture Energy, headquartered in Albany, identifies opportune locations, sites, develops, deploys and operates energy storage systems.

Saratoga Partnership President Marty Vanags said, “We congratulate Key Capture Energy as it launches construction of this next-generation facility, which represents a significant investment in the economic, energy, and environmental future of Saratoga County. We are delighted to have assisted the company in advancing this important clean-energy project, and especially pleased to be leading the first development on the Luther Forest Technology Campus since GlobalFoundries.”

Published in Business

BALLSTON SPA — On Sept. 19 the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership economic development agency, released the first-ever Saratoga County Agricultural Index, which identifies the agriculture sector as a critical component of the county’s economy, generating more than $500 million in annual economic impact. That figure includes nearly $300 million produced by equine interests, including Saratoga Race Course, and more than $200 million in agricultural products, support services and commodities sold.

At the event that took place at Ellms Family Farm in Ballston Spa, business leaders, farmers and industry stakeholders gathered for the unveiling of the inaugural index.

“The Saratoga County Agricultural Index paints a vivid picture of the vital role agriculture and agribusiness play in creating a vibrant Saratoga County economy,” said Marty Vanags, President of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership.

“We are committed to lending our support to sustain and grow thisimportantsectorbyproviding business and technical resources, enabling access to markets and capital, and promoting collaboration through incentives and marketing campaigns aligned withtheneedsofthefarming community,” he said.

According to the Agricultural Index, Saratoga County ranks third among Capital Region counties in the number of farms, at 583; in annual agricultural output, at $83 million; in annual value of agriculture products and support services, at $125 million;andin market value of agricultural land and buildings, at $378 million. Dairy products represent the top- selling agricultural commodities in Saratoga County, with the $772,000per-farm value of milk produced at 23 dairy farms ranked first in the Capital Region and sixth in New York State. Total direct farm wages in Saratoga County were $27 million in 2017.

Meanwhile, the equine industry is a significant player in the county’s agribusiness sector, according to the index. Saratoga Race Course accounts for 2,600 on-site jobs, generates $101 million in earnings and $237 million in sales. In addition, 64 private horse farms boast a total market value of $59 million.

“The agricultural industry has been an important part of Saratoga County’s economy for many years, and its positive impact is just as vital today,” said Edward Kinowski, Chairman of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors. “We are committed to lending our support to ensure our agriculture and agribusiness sector continues to grow and prosper in the years ahead.”

The Saratoga County Agricultural Index also included the results of a Pulse Survey that showed 71 percent of industry leaders and stakeholders described themselves as optimistic about the future of agriculture in Saratoga County. In addition, 94 percent strongly agreed or agreed that providing new incentives or creating mechanisms to support agricultural collaboration were needed, and 70 percent strongly agreed or agreed with the need for new branding concepts or marketing campaigns to sustain agricultural growth.

A panel discussion featuring industry leaders and community stakeholders followed the presentation of the index. Panelists included Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner; Bill Peck of Welcome Stock Farm and Supervisor, Town of Northumberland; Rachel (Czub) McDermott of Whole Feeds of the Hudson Valley and Z-Hub in Moreau; and Jennifer Koval of Koval Brothers Dairy of Stillwater

Published in Business

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The large meeting room at the Saratoga Springs City Center on Thursday, November 10 was crowded with businessmen, land use planners, economic developers and elected officials all wondering the same thing – what do the national election results mean for job creation and economic growth in Saratoga County in 2017? The answer is – it depends.

A supermoon effect of economic growth in any area of the country depends on a planetary alignment that reaches from the federal world of the new President-elect to all the local worlds of homeowners, mayors, town supervisors, and educational institutions, among others. Each group has its own internal shifts and changes, and each affects the other, so economic results can be diverse and unpredictable. Wrapping economic development arms around all those moving parts is a challenge, but one Marty Vanags, president of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership (the Partnership), is confident is manageable here in Saratoga County.

To explore how that can be done, the Partnership hosted a Saratoga County Prosperity Summit last week at the City Center, inviting experts such as Hugh Johnson, chairman and CIO of Hugh Johnson Advisors, LLC. Johnson’s successful management work of over a billion dollars in equity and investments for individuals and institutions has prompted his appearances on CNBC, Bloomberg News, NBC Nightly News, Fox Business, The News Hour, ABC World News Tonight, Wall Street Journal, and CBS Evening News. Johnson predicted fewer regulations and a good, solid year for Saratoga County in 2017, although the first half of a new Presidential term historically tends to be a bear market, and nationally, the economy will likely expand at a slow pace.

“The financial market environment will be positive but certainly not great,” said Johnson. “Everything is fine, but I’m saying, hang on, watch carefully and I hope we all collectively have a great 2017.”

The keynote speaker, Jeff Finkle, president, International Economic Development Council said workforce preparedness was one of the biggest issues facing economic developers in 2017. The national focus on a college degree has minimized the number of young people entering the skilled labor force, and developers are feeling that shortage across the country.

Malta Deputy Town Supervisor John Hartzell said that hearing several of the panelists’ concerns about workforce is something the county really needs to pay attention to.

“There’s a crucial need for a trained workforce to meet employer needs going forward in our county and region. I think our local secondary and postsecondary schools are aware of this, and we need to ratchet it up,” said Hartzell. “The other thing I took away from the summit is that economic development success tends to be regional, and that we’re going to have to reach across some traditional lines of counties and economic development agencies to succeed on a regional basis.”

The free summit at the City Center covered a variety of topics – from the state of economic development to case studies and community preparedness. Speakers also included: Matt Jones, Founder, The Jones Firm; Rocky Ferraro, Executive Director, Capital District Regional Planning Commission; Tom Kucharski, President and CEO, Invest Buffalo Niagara; Brian McMahon, Executive Director, New York State Economic Development Council; Congressman Paul Tonko, NY-20 and many others.

Kucharski has presided over a sea change in Buffalo’s economic growth and future prospects. His advice for 2017? “What I found in New York is everyone needs to put their swords down,” said Kucharski. “In this global economy you aren’t competing against each other, you’re competing against the world.”

Wilton Town Supervisor Art Johnson said he found Hugh Johnson’s remarks about the stock market and timing very informative, but the panelists’ comments on preparing a community for economic development hit home for him, validating that Wilton is doing something right.

“A lot of what they were talking about was how to get a project through the local level with some sense of predictability and reliability,” said Art Johnson. “I can relate to that very closely because some things they suggested, Wilton already has in place. We have a free pre-application process where a developer can meet with me, our planning board chair, and both the planning and building departments. We will give them the sense right away whether a project has any chance of going through, what hurdles they may face, and whether traffic or open space will be an issue. Or be honest with them that it’s not going to work. You’d find out upfront before investing in the project. This is helpful for both the town and the applicant.”

One of the areas of unpredictability discussed frequently was the reaction of homeowners and community members to development. Often, a development project will go through several hoops in the process before a public hearing is announced about the project, and the panelists said when a community is surprised or overextended, costs go up and the viability of the project goes down.

“To provide the predictability that is necessary, we need to invest in planning,” said Ferraro. “There’s a failure to do so in many of our municipalities. They use the excuse of regulations as planning, but there should be more than that. There’s an unfairness associated with using SEQR [State Environmental Quality Review] as the planning method. We should start before then. We need to bring the public in earlier in the process, so the developer doesn’t go through the whole SEQR process and then the town holds a public hearing and finds out the public is against the project. Find out the opposition first, be proactive.”

Ferraro gave an analogy of economic development’s impact on roads and other infrastructure. “It’s like this cup of water,” he said. “One project causes this much traffic, filling part of the cup, then the next one causes more, adding more to the cup, then a project comes in that would overflow the cup and that project is hit with all the costs of upgrading the road, even though the cause was the combination of all the previous projects.”

He suggested that rather than hit one developer with all that cost, and possibly lose the project and not get the road upgrades funded, local planning departments could calculate what the future needs of the road would be, and spread that cost across all projects coming in that will contribute to the road’s wear and tear.

“When it comes to the traffic studies as new large developments are being built, what happens is, until you hit the tipping point, there’s no need for additional traffic infrastructure,” said Saratoga Springs Supervisor Peter Martin. “And then when you find you do need it, the next person has to pay for everything. I agree, it’s important to think ahead to allocate those costs to all.”

Another suggestion was providing prospective homeowners with zoning maps, so they know exactly how close they are to land that could be developed commercially in future or other projects.

“It would be easier on everybody if folks, when they bought the property, would have accurate expectations about what will happen,” said Hartzell. “They think the forest or field next door is going to be there forever, and then it’s gone. One of the things we can do is make sure we have the community engaged in the land use planning process, so they have a good understanding of what’s going to happen around them in the community. Having homeowners participate in the process of deciding what will happen around them, even if it’s not exactly what they want, will at least give them the opportunity to participate, provide input, and be aware, which is important. We as town officials should make that happen.”

Finkle summed up the steps to a positive economic future well. He emphasized there needs to be an increase in blue collar labor, with more access to quality training; more concentration on local retention of existing businesses; more attraction and working with small businesses and entrepreneurs; more development project process predictability; and disaster preparedness.

“Ever since Katrina hit, disaster planning response and resiliency is a major issue,” said Finkle. “Even D.C. had an earthquake. Our infrastructure is in serious decline. Are you prepared?”

Vanags said the Prosperity Summit is just one of many conversations like this that will happen.

“I like to think of this as an ongoing dialogue," Vanags said. "The issue of consistency and predictability is most important, and the brokers and businesses want to know what happens during the process, the A-B-C’s that have to be followed, and they want to know if they can count on it. We’ll do that, that’s the role we play, coordinating between government and developers. We want to be the agent for streamlining these processes and I think many of our supervisors know and recognize that. I’m encouraged by the number of people who attended as well as who attended. It’s their investment that makes this kind of thing work. We plan to do a workforce roundtable in the first quarter of next year, so we’re reaching out to local employers for their input as we put that together.”

For more information about the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, visit saratogapartnership.org.

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