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What you need to know for 08/22/2017

Firm picked to write Saratoga County development plan

Firm picked to write Saratoga County development plan

A Texas firm has been chosen by the county’s Economic Development Committee to write Saratoga County

A Texas firm has been chosen by the county’s Economic Development Committee to write Saratoga County’s long-term strategic plan.

A contract worth up to $95,000 for TIP Strategies was approved by the committee during Wednesday’s meeting at the county offices in Ballston Spa and the choice is expected to be approved by the county Board of Supervisors before the end of the month.

Hiring an outside firm to draft a plan signifies a new direction for the county, which has had its economic development marketing handled by the Saratoga Economic Development Corp. since 1978. That long-term relationship is being severed at the end of this year.

County Economic Development Committee Chairman John E. Lawler, R-Waterford, was excited about TIPS, which he said was the unanimous choice of the committee after hearing four in-person pitches from potential firms.

The process initially started with more than a dozen interested firms, but only nine formal proposals were submitted this summer following the county’s request for proposal, which was drafted in the spring for $7,400 by E.M. Pemrick & Co. of Ballston Lake. The county’s request for proposal said it was looking for a “world-class Economic Development Strategic Plan” and an organizational structure to execute it.

The county hopes the plan will increase the tax base, promote investment and create jobs in local communities over a five- to 10-year period.

A two-hour presentation by Jon Roberts, principal and managing director of TIP Strategies, sealed the deal, said Lawler. He credited Roberts with having a “world-class” economic development background, which includes overseeing projects in Europe and Asia and serving as director of business development for Washington state and later Texas.

TIP Strategies said it has done county-level development all over the country, including Lake County, Fla., and Blaine County, Idaho. The firm also touted its knowledge of corporate site selection processes and the role of higher education in regional competitiveness, both key ingredients to the county’s high-tech success.

“In short, our team has the analytical capacity, corporate experience and planning expertise to assist Saratoga County in examining the region’s position in the global economy,” the company wrote in its proposal. “We are excited about the prospect of working on this project.”

Lawler was optimistic about the impact of a long-term plan.

“It’s something this county sorely lacked,” he said.

That sentiment was echoed by Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Chairman Alan Grattidge, R-Charlton.

“We’ve been doing the same old same old for the last 20 years,” he said.

In recent year, much of SEDC’s work has focused on creating and developing the Luther Forest Technology Campus and laying the groundwork to bring the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant to the area. In the last three decades, the private nonprofit has also played a role in bringing Ball Metal, Quad/Graphics, Ace Hardware and Target to the county.

County officials have downplayed the impact of SEDC, however, arguing that, aside from GlobalFoundries, the group has created fewer than 650 new jobs since 2008.

Officials at SEDC contend they are being dropped by the county for voting this spring not to change its bylaws to place an elected official, like a county supervisor, on its board. The county maintains that request stemmed from a desire to have a larger role in how their money was being spent.

“We didn’t have a strategic plan at the county level,” Grattidge added.

SEDC has said it will continue operating despite losing the $200,000 in annual county funding, which represented about one-quarter of its annual budget. Officials hope to make up the loss through fundraising.

The county had initially hoped to have its strategic plan completed by the end of the year, but Grattidge said it is more likely to be finished early next year. If the county approves the hiring of TIP Strategies, it will only be for this one job and one fee, he added.

TIP Strategies was established in 1995, with a focus on strategic economic development planning, according to company information.

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