Surrounded by local business leaders, the Saratoga Economic Development Corporation on Wednesday unveiled Advance Saratoga. The five-year plan seeks to create thousands of jobs by promoting the county for new businesses and helping existing employers expand.
The initiative will promote high-tech manufacturing and supply, warehousing and distribution, light manufacturing, and corporate headquarters. Beyond marketing, the campaign will also assist in physical things like infrastructure.
SEDC President Dennis Brobston says, “It’s building capacity, and building capacity not only in infrastructure, property, spec buildings, and we also need to do that…we need to have a piece of workforce development. Because…if you don’t have the workers, what’s the point?”
At the Advance Saratoga kickoff, SEDC announced that it has raised $1.3 million of its $2.75 million capital campaign to get things moving.
“Our stretch goal, where we’d really like to be, is about $3.5 million because that would give us more dollars for some marketing initiatives that we’d like to do,” said Brobston.
SEDC was involved in attracting several large companies to the region, including semiconductor manufacturer GlobalFoundries, which employs more than 3,000 at its Malta campus.
Brobston says a portion of Advance Saratoga’s goal of 9,000 jobs is tied up in the completion of GlobalFoundries’ proposed Fab 8.2 chip fab plant, that if built, would also occupy the Luther Forest Technology park.
“That’s about 1,000-1,500 jobs. But we’re looking at warehouse distribution jobs, corporate headquarters, other manufacturers, light manufacturers. There’s a few hundred million dollar projects looking around in the region. And it wouldn’t take many of those to get us where we need to go,” said Brobston.
SEDC Vice Chair Cindy Hollowood says the organization has had a hand in attracting companies to the region that have greatly benefited the Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs, where she is general manager.
“Ball Metal Container, Quad Graphics, State Farm Insurance. My business has benefited from all of those businesses and probably 80 percent of the 200 business that they’ve brought in in last 38 years. So I don’t ever want to see that go away. I want to see them continue for another 38 years,” said Hollowood.
SEDC, an independent organization with no elected officials on its board, is striking out on its own after the organization cut ties with Saratoga County government in 2013. Since then, the county has formed its own organization, the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership.
SEDC Board member and Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus is confident the Advance Saratoga initiative can succeed.
“It is scaled back a little bit in terms of staff and the sharing of responsibilities so I think they’ve right-sized and they’ve gone to the business community to raise some extra money. And the combination of those two things means they’re viable for a long time,’ said Shimkus.
Shimkus also says he believes there’s enough room in the county for both SEDC and the county’s Prosperity Partnership.
In late March, the Prosperity Partnership, working with the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County, announced Business First Saratoga. The job retention initiative is part of the Prosperity Partnership’s Saratoga Strategy plan.