The county Economic Development Committee is recommending the creation of a new position of economic development coordinator.
Committee Chairwoman Anita M. Daly, R-Clifton Park, said the idea is only a concept at this point, but the committee members would like to see something happen in 2013 to bring more coordination to Saratoga County’s various job-creation efforts.
“It’s a conceptual recommendation,” she said after a 4-0 committee vote Wednesday in Ballston Spa. “I think the supervisors want more coordination and communication, and the only way to do that is to have an economic development coordinator.”
The county has about a half-dozen organizations and independent agencies it works with on economic development issues but has nobody on staff who serves as an economic development specialist. The Saratoga Economic Development Corp. is a private nonprofit that specializes in marketing to business that receives some of its funding from the county, and the county contracts with the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce for tourism promotion.
The county Industrial Development Agency is nominally independent from the county, though its members are appointed by the Board of Supervisors and it works closely with the county Planning Department. The IDA can offer tax incentives to attract or retain businesses. A new Capital Resource Corp. was just set up and will be able to provide low-interest loan assistance to nonprofit organizations.
All the organizations have seen more activity since planning started a decade ago for what is now the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant on the Luther Forest Technology Campus in Malta.
Daly has also pushed for the county to start developing a strategic economic development plan. She noted that the county last year got involved in hosting a large job fair.
“With all the things going on, I think there’s a real need for the position,” said Supervisor Arthur Johnson, R-Wilton. “I don’t see the position as replacing any outside agencies we have now. It’s coordinating them.”
Whether the idea will be supported beyond the committee remains to be seen. County Law and Finance Committee Chairman Alan R. Grattidge said no new positions will be considered as the committee reviews the proposed 2013 county budget.
Daly said no position is being requested now, but she’d like to see some action in 2013. She hopes the committee can make a more definitive recommendation in December.
Daly said a position could be paid for from the $640,000 the county receives annually from the hotel room occupancy tax, without impacting the rest of the county budget.
“We’re proposing to create another position for an individual in the county budget. I’m sorry, but I’m not totally convinced there’s a need for this,” said Supervisor John Collyer, R-Providence.
It’s too early to discuss whether a person would be on the county payroll or how much they might be paid, Daly said.