Saratoga County

Saratoga County officials forging ahead without SEDC

Saratoga County officials are laying the groundwork to develop a strategic economic development plan

Saratoga County officials are laying the groundwork to develop a strategic economic development plan for the county, without its longtime partner — the Saratoga Economic Development Corp. — being part of the picture.

The county on May 1 announced plans to sever its ties with SEDC, a profit nonprofit organization in Saratoga Springs that county officials said wasn’t sufficiently accountable.

On Tuesday, county Economic Development Committee Chairman John E. Lawler, R-Waterford, said the county has hired E.M. Pemrick & Co. of Ballston Lake to develop specifications to be used for hiring a consultant to write a strategic development plan for the county.

“They have done work all over the country,” Lawler said. “They have done a lot of strategic planning. As a local firm, they will be able to work with us more quickly and closely than a firm from outside the area.”

E.M. Pemrick will be paid $7,400 to develop a request for proposals from consultants and has agreed not to bid on the resulting RFP, Lawler said.

Lawler said a strategic economic development plan for the county — which has been among the fastest-growing in the state for more than a half-century — would look at things like the county’s economic advantages, what infrastructure is needed and what community leaders think about what kinds of businesses the county should try to attract.

The county has seen some recent high-tech development with the arrival of the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant in Malta, but Lawler said tourism and support for agriculture also need to be weighed in planning for the economic future.

“The absence of a written plan is a real problem for us,” he said.

SEDC, meanwhile, isn’t backing down from its own planning efforts. A luncheon today at the Saratoga Springs City Center will feature a presentation by economic development consultant J. Mac Holladay, “Innovation Saratoga: A Plan for Our Future.”

Holladay is founder and CEO of Market Street Services of Atlanta and a former high-level economic development official in Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina.

“This event will help us map out the future as we continue to build on our success,” said SEDC President Dennis Brobston.

The county, which has contracted with SEDC for economic development marketing since 1978, is cutting its ties with the group as of Dec. 31. This year, SEDC was receiving $200,000 from the county.

The break came after the SEDC board voted not to place a county supervisor on its board of directors — a request by supervisors Lawler said was intended to increase SEDC’s accountability.

Giving supervisors more control could jeopardize the confidentiality that companies scouting the county as a possible location typically want, SEDC officials said in response to the termination.

Once a new plan is developed, Lawler said the county’s intention is to create and staff a new economic development entity to follow through on the plan.

“It will not be part of county government,” Lawler said. “It will be either an authority or a local development corporation.”

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