Comments made at the Capital Region Economic Development Council’s fourth public forum on Monday in Saratoga County were more upbeat than those made at public forums in other parts of the group’s eight-county region, council members said.
“This, by far, has been our most optimistic region,” said Michael J. Castellana, president and CEO of SEFCU.
About 100 people attended the forum held at Empire State College’s Center for Distance Learning.
Castellana and Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, are council members and co-hosted the forum.
Discussion about the new GlobalFoundries computer chip fabrication plant under construction in Malta and the educational opportunities at Empire State College and Hudson Valley Community College’s Tec-Smart program projected a positive, optimistic mood, Castellana said.
“We should all be jumping for joy now,” said Marcia White, president and executive director of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and one of the four local presenters.
“We are Tech Valley,” White said, referring to GlobalFoundries and other high-tech companies coming to the region.
White explained how offering a good quality of life, including world-class performing arts, is very important to the people coming from other parts of the country and world to work at these new plants and businesses.
Education and having institutions of higher learning such as Empire State College, HVCC and the many other colleges in the region partner with the high-tech businesses was seen as a key to continued economic development in the region.
Jackson, a scientist and world-recognized educator, said the educational community and the new council must build a bridge to business and industry and address their needs for an educated, talented workforce.
The new Capital Region Economic Development Council is one of 10 regional councils created this year by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to help coordinate regional and local economic development projects to create new jobs across the state.
The 45-member Capital Region council wants to complete its five-year strategic economic development plan by the end of the month and is looking for ideas and suggestions from the public.
Saratoga Town Supervisor Thomas Wood, chairman of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, introduced each of the four presenters, including White; Meg Benke, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Empire State College; Dan Pickett, chairman and CEO of Nfrastructure in Malta; and Penny Hill, associate dean of HVCC’s Tec-Smart program.
The Capital Region council will hold two more public forums in other parts of the eight-county region that includes Albany, Saratoga, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Warren, Washington, Greene and Columbia counties.
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