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Friday, 26 August 2016 11:50
Prosperity Partnership Solidifies Business Retention and Expansion Efforts
MALTA — With its economic development infrastructure firmly in place, the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, located at 2911 Route 9 in Malta, has been steadily strengthening its business outreach, knocking on innumerable local doors as part of its commitment to business retention and expansion in the county. The Partnership has also been hosting a series of informational sessions, convening and educating broader groups of people on substantive topics, with enlightening results. One such informational session was the August 11 luncheon on the topic of site selection. The Partnership invited Chris Steele of Investment Consulting Associates, a well-established site location and economic development consulting firm, to share his 25 years of company location experience and answer questions about project readiness, relationships and marketing. Much of Steele’s presentation was an overview of how companies go through the location process, and the kinds of companies that are looking to expand or relocate. He spoke about the ways communities can be prepared to attract companies. “Saratoga is appealing for a couple of reasons,” said Steele. “It has a good basic, diverse labor force. Skilled and trainable for a variety of functions. We had looked at it recently for small office space functions and logistics and skilled manufacturing. It’s also right in the middle of a couple logistics chains, making it easy to get into and out of. The highway and rail access to both of those are in good standing.” Steele did admit that New York State, when it comes to attracting business, is a mixed bag. “The state has done very well in terms of marketing and outreach,” said Steele, “but doesn’t have too good a ranking with the Tax Foundation. Communities across the state are handicapped by that.” Despite that, Steele encouraged the county to continue its outreach to decision makers. “I’m just one class of decision- maker,” he said. “Keep talking and raise more awareness about what the county is trying to do, then more conversations like these can happen.” Steele added that the Partnership is on the right track. “I would say, certainly, what the Partnership is doing is a good way to bring stakeholders and decision-makers together so the community can make the best possible showing.” The Partnership, along with the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce and Chamber of Southern Saratoga County, announced its Business First Saratoga initiative in March, to serve local business owners by developing relationships to better understand the opportunities and challenges of doing business in the region. This includes assistance with workforce development, financing, international markets access, government regulations, resources for small businesses, and utilities. Earlier this summer, the Partnership hired heavy-hitter Shelby Schneider, formerly with the Saratoga Economic Development Corporation and a respected figure in the business community, to lead the outreach to local businesses and identify concerns, strengths, and potential growth. Schneider also spent a few years in a manufacturing environment, and she said that experience has helped her see both sides of the economic development equation. “For example, when I was at Shmaltz Brewing Company, we’d have job openings for brewers for months and months and months,” she said. “Talking with other brewers, we found that industry growth had outpaced the talent pipeline. So we reached out to the regional workforce development boards and worked with Schenectady Community College and put together a workforce training program, and the boards contributed to help underwrite the tuition.” Schneider explained that is how economic development works, that the more businesses she meets, the more she can see connections between similar industry needs and work to find solutions. “You can help businesses grow and thrive that way,” she said. Steele agrees. “I think it’s vitally important [knocking on doors]. It’s something you have to do, otherwise you miss warning signs. The more you understand about your own business base and why they chose to be there, the more it helps to understand what kind of entrepreneurial business you can support.” The Partnership is hosting a “Back to School, Back to Business” networking event for Saratoga County business professionals on Wednesday, September 14 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Saratoga National Golf Club to talk about what’s on the docket for fall. Additionally, the nonprofit will be hosting an Economic Development Summit for elected and public officials to talk about economic development in the post-election political environment, as well as discussing community preparedness, best practices, and more on November 10. For more information about these events and the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, visit SaratogaPartnership.org.