Montgomery County officials see benefits of new development council

Though they sought inclusion in the Capital Region Economic Development Council, some leaders in Mon

Though they sought inclusion in the Capital Region Economic Development Council, some leaders in Montgomery County are adopting a positive outlook at the prospect at playing a more-active role in an adjoining group.

Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new design for economic development efforts, Montgomery County joins forces with Fulton, Herkimer, Oneida, Otsego and Schoharie counties to make up the Mohawk Valley segment, one of 10 statewide now formed into Regional Economic Development Councils.

Because of its proximity to Albany, some in Montgomery County lobbied to be included in the Capital Region council, which consists of Schenectady, Saratoga, Rensselaer, Greene, Columbia, Albany, Warren and Washington counties.

Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane, an ex-officio member of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council, said the setup averts the need for Amsterdam and Montgomery County to compete for the same pot of money as bigger cities like Albany, Saratoga and Schenectady.

“Certainly we want to be considered when someone is looking at the Capital Region, as far as residing around the capital and locating businesses around the Capital District,” Thane said. “But the designation doesn’t entirely work against us because each of these communities is assigned a pool of money.”

According to the governor’s office, the 10 Regional Economic Development Councils have until Nov. 14 to complete the initial planning and application process.

Based on the plans — outlined in a 60-page guide on the Internet at — four of these councils will each get $40 million towards projects spelled out in the plans, for a total of $160 million.

The remaining six regional economic development council regions will share the remaining $40 million.

There’s a tight deadline to get plans together that spell out several elements: short- and long-term strategies, a road map based on growing specific industry clusters, a means to build on key assets and competitive industries, effective and realistic strategies with ways to measure success, and “an effective leveraging of private capital and federal, local and nonprofit resources,” with the main goal of creating more jobs, according to the outline.

Montgomery County Board of Supervisors Chairman Thomas Quackenbush said people often complain about the way the state runs things, now localities will get their chance to show what they can do.

“I think you’ve got to look at it in a positive way. Is it up to us, yeah, and if we want it and we want to fight for something, it ought to be,” he said. “How many times have you heard people say the state always wants to cram something down our throats. Now, they’re allowing us to feed ourselves.”

Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce President Deborah Auspelmyer said the effort to be part of the Capital Region council was based on relationships already established to the east of Montgomery County, such as partnerships with Schenectady and membership in the Tech Valley Chamber Coalition.

Also, many in Montgomery County head to the east to work.

“There’s already a natural flow of traffic and relationships,” Auspelmyer said.

But simple geography shows Montgomery County is in the center of a lot of potential, she said.

“I think we’re really on the cusp of some wonderful changes in our area, and if you look at it, we’re very centrally located,” Auspelmyer said.

According to the state’s outline, the 10 councils, making use of state economic development staffing to be available, will have to draft a strategic plan by Nov. 14. The four best plans will get $40 million towards their efforts.

General goals of the strategic plan are:

– Establish an economic vision for the region’s future.

– Involve businesses, community groups, academia and local government.

– Generate effective, realistic strategies to capitalize on key industries and assets.

– Build a framework to continually identify, prioritize and implement catalytic projects.

– Leverage private, federal, local and nonprofit resources.

– Connect program evaluation and monitoring to continually improve the strategies.

According to the governor’s office, meetings to that end will get started early next month.

Categories: Business, Schenectady County

Leave a Reply