It wasn’t a good idea back then.
Now, with several years of the failed experiment under their belt, Saratoga County supervisors have finally realized that.
When you’ve got something going as well as Saratoga County’s economic development efforts, you don’t allow politics and personalities to break up the winning team that’s gotten you this far and which is still being successful.
But that’s exactly what the county did six years ago when it cast aside its very beneficial 35-year relationship with the Saratoga County Economic Development Corp. (SEDC) and created a separate agency, the Prosperty Partnership.
The idea at the time was to diversify county economic development efforts beyond technology and to create more shovel-ready sites, business clusters and entrepreneurial growth. But these were tasks the SEDC had already been providing for decades.
The SEDC had helped bring in Global Foundries and was a force behind many of the other initiatives that had made the county the envy of every other economic development office in the state.
In addition to being costly (the county fronted the new Prosperity Partnership $500,000, which has now risen to $775,000), we argued in an editorial at the time that splitting up the efforts would make it more challenging for the county to attract businesses because it would make its efforts more diffuse and confusing. Businesses wouldn’t know who to approach first or know what agency would perform which service for them, opponents of the move said.
Turns out, the naysayers were correct.
And now Saratoga County supervisors are listening to them.
In a complete about-face, they’ve restored the SEDC to its former role as the lead marketing, promotion and negotiating agency for the county’s economic development efforts. That restoration includes adding $150,000 to the SEDC budget while trimming $230,000 from the Prosperity Partnership’s allocation and assigning the group a role in local economic development efforts.
The reason supervisors cited for the change was the same reason they were chastised for dumping the SEDC in the first place — confusion and frustration for outside companies having to deal with competing agencies that were performing duplicating functions.
Having the SEDC back at the helm, working with the Prosperity Partnership helping local communities, is a sound, reasonable and smart way to go.
Give supervisors credit for being willing to shift course back to an approach that worked well in the past and will serve county residents well in the future.