From the southern Saratoga County perspective, here are some ideas that might make 2016 a very strong year from an economic viewpoint.
The ready workforce/workforce development situation needs to remain first and foremost on the minds of every business leader and elected official. Businesses large and small are clamoring for employees with relatively minimal training but a strong work ethic and willingness to adapt to a challenging work environment.
The No. 1 question I get asked by companies is “where can I find people who want to work?”
If that’s you, then this could be your year!
Parents, please take note: Your child may find some great opportunities right here in Tech Valley that don’t require massive student loans or top-of-the-class grades to achieve. Schools are seeking ways to connect students with employers for potential internships and on-the-job training.
Those willing to work with their hands a bit will find a lot of available jobs. And don’t let the titles fool you. For example, “janitorial services” may not sound too exciting, until one realizes that some of those “janitorial” jobs are in the clean room at GlobalFoundries! I’m a CEO, and in five years I still haven’t had the opportunity to go in there!
Infrastructure has also risen to the forefront due to several notable events such as the water main break in Troy and the Hoosick Falls water situation.
Those issues could happen anywhere in our region, and we must be diligent to keep our water, sewer, electric, gas and transportation infrastructure (rail, canal, highway) well maintained, in order to protect our quality of life and also attract industry and new employers to our region.
There is a unique and perhaps fleeting opportunity to bring 21st Century (i.e. economically and environmentally sustainable) manufacturing to the shores of the Hudson River in Halfmoon.
We can attract companies to the region that would take advantage of intermodal rail/canal transportation, providing jobs and a stronger tax base to several communities.
What can we build? How about a fleet of Solar Sals? Our 2015 demonstration of the capabilities of this vessel wasn’t just for show.
There appears to be a market developing for these boats, to be used as small cargo vessels, tour boats and private yachts.
As an added benefit, the push toward alternative energy-fueled food distribution methods would also synergize with efforts in NYC and utilize companies such as VT Sail Freight, whose sailing barge Ceres made several trips in the past few years from Lake Champlain to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Finally, the tourism initiative favored by Clifton Park town Supervisor Phil Barrett promises to create a powerful resource to promote the nearly 1000 hotel rooms of Clifton Park (by 2017) and also fortify the growing downtown commerce districts of several communities. The best part? Not a penny will come out of local taxpayers’ pockets!
Hopefully, needed legislation will be passed this year.
Pete Bardunias is the president and CEO of the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County.