Ballston Spa Touts New Economic Development Plan
After crawling out of fiscal uncertainty, the Village of Ballston Spa in Saratoga County is moving forward with a new economic development plan to support and attract new businesses.
In front of an assemblage of village residents and local officials in downtown Ballston Spa Wednesday, Mayor Larry Woolbright turned on a recently repaired village landmark.
“So as a symbol of the village’s rebirth, the San Souci spring is running again and we’re all about to drink it,” said Woolbright.
And the spring, which served as an attraction in the 19th Century, sounded excited too.
With a business district along Route 50 just a few miles south of Saratoga Springs, Ballston Spa boasts historic architecture, sidewalks, and some unique shops and restaurants.
Woolbright, a Republican, says the village has made tremendous strides over the previous two budget years – from a village on the brink to a budget surplus.
“We managed to erase the deficit, we managed to create a surplus, and start…we doubled the amount of money we spent on paving this year. We spent $350,000 on replacing outdated, obsolete equipment this year, and we’re starting to work on our infrastructure,” said Woolbright.
As the village looks toward its future, the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership helped Ballston Spa develop a new economic development plan for the community of more than 5,000 residents.
Through a survey of more than 400 village residents and several focus group meetings, a vision was developed for the village.
Rory O’Connor, who chairs the planning board, also served as the head of the steering committee that guided the report. He calls the plan flexible and comprehensive – and points out that stakeholders came together to put politics aside during a challenging time.
“So I believe that what we did here was something very, very unique during a very difficult time with COVID. And at the end of the day, we have the report that shows what we can do and we’ve got a 27-page checklist of things that need to be done,” said O’Connor.
There are four main tenants of the economic development plan: Enhance the central business district, enrich the village’s “Quality of Place,” provide support and resources to small business, and create an economic development and community branding strategy.
Saratoga Partnership President and CEO Shelby Schneider said her organization is also guiding similar efforts in nearby Malta and Galway.
“We’re excited about doing grassroots economic development planning at the local level,” said Schneider. “Because if the community does not know what it wants, it can’t necessarily articulate that to the businesses and local investors.”
As communities recover from the pandemic and economic downturn, Woolbright hopes the economic development plan can benefit new and existing businesses. The mayor said village finances weren’t decimated by the pandemic – thanks to a fiscal cushion built up over the last two years – but he does have some concern about the local economy.
“I’m worried about our downtown and I’m hoping we can do everything to support them and help make it through,” he said.
To learn more about the Village of Ballston Spa’s economic development plan, visit: