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Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership shuts down

This image taken from the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership's Facebook page shows the now-dormant corporation's logo.

This image taken from the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership's Facebook page shows the now-dormant corporation's logo.

BALLSTON SPA — The economic development organization founded by Saratoga County in 2014 is going dormant.

The board of directors of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership Board voted unanimously Monday to transfer the partnership’s responsibilities to Saratoga County. The county’s Planning and Economic Development Department will assume operational duties.

The move ends an effort that consumed more than $4 million in taxpayer funding but was credited with just a handful of successes and creation of few private-sector jobs.

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The Partnership, a local economic development corporation, was formed after the county had a falling out with the Saratoga Economic Development Corporation, a private-sector nonprofit with a long track record of success. SEDC refused the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors’ demand to appoint a member of SEDC’s board, so the county ended its funding for SEDC in 2012 and created the Partnership in 2014, with $400,000 in annual funding.

But SEDC continued to operate, with considerable success, as the Partnership failed to gain momentum. 

The contrast was such that in 2019, the county brought SEDC back on board and created an alliance between SEDC and the Partnership. Whatever chance of success that effort had evaporated when SEDC accused the Partnership of snooping in on its meetings.

With the departure of the Partnership’s director and paid staff, the Partnership limped along to Monday’s board vote to effectively shut down.

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Board Chairwoman Maria Moran said the result would be a unified approach to economic development that would better serve the county and all involved.

Clifton Park Supervisor Phil Barrett, also a member of the Partnership’s Board of Directors, said Thursday he opposed creation of the Partnership from the beginning for exactly that reason: It created internal conflict in an economic development effort that needed to be unified for benefit of the county, not competing with itself.

For that reason, the Partnership never had a chance of succeeding, Barrett said. He suggested better hiring decisions could have been made by the Partnership, but didn’t directly criticize either of the directors who led the organization.

“We should not have a competitive environment within county government … we should all be working toward the same goal,” he said.

Barrett said he would be open to expanding funding and duties for SEDC now — it would be a good investment — but can’t say yet exactly what form that would take.

“I have to give SEDC a lot of credit because they have continued to post impressive results for areas across Saratoga County even during the pandemic,” he said.

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“Why did we need to set up a publicly funded entity to compete with them? That made zero sense to me.”

Barrett never shared his fellow supervisors’ opinion that the county should have a seat on SEDC’s board. The county doesn’t have a governing role in other organizations it funds to perform tasks, such as the Cooperative Extension of Chamber of Commerce, he noted.

“That was building a political case to create the Partnership. That’s what that was all about,” Barrett said.

The Partnership continues to exist in name if not function. It was created by the state Legislature and would need to be eliminated through the same process.

Categories: Business, Clifton Park and Halfmoon, News, Saratoga County, Saratoga Springs

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