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Officials seek input on Saratoga County’s future

Firm drawing up economic strategy plan

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
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— How does Saratoga County see itself: as an Albany suburb or as a technology innovation hub?

That was the question posed Wednesday by the consulting firm hired by the county to write a new economic development strategic plan for Saratoga County.

Representatives of TIP Strategies of Austin, Texas, are currently in the county meeting with a variety of local interest groups to develop a strategy for the county, which grew rapidly as a bedroom county for Albany and Schenectady but has changed in the past few years with the arrival of GlobalFoundries in Malta.

Online extra

The new website for the public to offer input can be found at http://bit.ly/17qWeRU.

On Wednesday, the company’s managing director, Jon Roberts, met with the county Board of Supervisors in Ballston Spa and announced a new website where the public can comment.

“If you could spend money advancing economic development, what would you spent it on? The answer to that question is your plan,” he said.

The firm headed by Roberts, a former director of business development for the states of Washington and Texas, is being paid $95,000 to come up with a new plan for the county over the next couple of months.

This week, Roberts and associate Caroline Alexander are meeting with large employers and developers, education and economic development advocates and agricultural interests.

“From the beginning, we have promised to reach out to the many economic development stakeholders in our county and the surrounding region as we gather information and assess Saratoga County’s strengths and weaknesses,” said Waterford Supervisor John E. Lawler, chairman of the county Economic Development Committee.

The writing of a new plan follows the county’s falling out last winter with the Saratoga Economic Development Corp., a private nonprofit that has run the county’s effort to attract new employers for the past 35 years. At the time, county officials said they wanted more input on the organization’s decisions; SEDC officials responded that they didn’t want politics to start influencing their work. The SEDC has a $200,000 contract with the county through the end of this year and remains in business.

SEDC officials were among those TIP Strategies met with Wednesday, along with representatives of both of the county’s chambers of commerce.

Lawler said the current work is tied in with the county’s efforts to pump new life into the Luther Forest Technology Campus in Malta and Stillwater, which has struggled to attract new businesses despite its high profile as the home to GlobalFoundries.

“The work we are doing relative to Luther Forest and the focus groups we conducted this week are indicative of the role that the county wants to play in economic development,” Lawler said.

Future phases of TIP’s work will include recommended goals and a vision for the county and suggesting target industries and projects.

The company’s work is supposed to be done by January.

 
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