Saratoga County thinks of itself as the beating heart of upstate economic development and deserving of more.
Back when the Republicans controlled state spending, the county got hundreds of millions to prime the pump, and that helped attract GlobalFoundries and others. The Cuomo administration, however, is putting its money toward pumping a pulse back into other corners of the state.
Even though the Capital Region did well, for a change, in this year’s Regional Economic Development Council competition, Saratoga County only scored funding for 10 projects, and none of them were for even close to $1 million.
The biggest grant, by far, was $750,000 from Empire State Development to be used toward design, construction and fit-up of a manufacturing/warehouse building for nfrastructure Technologies, a growing company that makes and installs “mission critical” computer systems for big users who can’t afford to have their computer systems crash — a semiconductor factory, say, or a regional bank.
Nfrastructure has a leading role in the state’s efforts to establish information technology centers at the College of Nanoscale Sciences and Engineering in Albany and at the SUNY Institute of Technology site in Utica. That can’t have hurt its chances for funding.
Regional Economic Development Council documents provide some specifics on what the company wants to do — though nfrastructure itself has never announced any plans.
Nfrastructure currently has employees spread across four different locations in the Capital Region and would like to consolidate them into one 70,000-square-foot building at the Saratoga Technology + Energy Park in Malta.
The regional council recommended that the project receive nearly $1.9 million in state funding toward a $9.3 million total cost. The review process — the governor’s opaque review process — for some reason lowered the award to $750,000.
How the lesser award affects nfrastructure’s plan remains a mystery. As I said, nothing has been announced, and the company didn’t respond to a request for comment Friday.
Stewart’s Shops, on the other hand, was happy to talk about its award. The convenience store chain was awarded a $128,500 grant, enough to cover a significant part of a $300,000 water conservation project at its dairy and ice cream production plant just outside of Saratoga Springs.
Company spokeswoman Maria D’Amalia said a new storage tank will be installed so final rinse water can be reserved and used for the next first rinse when the stainless steel pipes and tanks that handle milk and other fluids are being cleaned. The move will save the company about 9,000 gallons of water per day, she said — and pay for itself in reduced water costs within five years.
“It’s really just another way of being green,” D’Amalia said. “Less water goes out into the sewer.”
She said Stewart’s was pleasantly surprised to have gotten the funding from Empire State Development’s environmental investment program. The water conservation project wasn’t among those listed as priorities by the Capital Region council.
The state awards also included $350,000 for two recreational trail extensions in Stillwater and $200,000 for a recreation trail along the old Erie Canal towpath in Halfmoon. Another $200,000 will help Saratoga Springs officials complete a comprehensive land use plan.
However, the county government was dashed in its hopes — which had been given priority status by the council — for money to extend the Zim Smith trail from where it now ends in Halfmoon into the city of Mechanicville.
Also shot down was the Albany County Airport Authority’s request for $5 million toward establishing the Exit 4 airport connector — a direct connection between the Albany International Airport and the Northway.