November 13 2020

Capital Region Leads NYS in Growth of Applications for Biz Formation, Albany Co. Leads Northeast

Amid COVID-19, NYS Business Applications Surge to Record High in Q3

ALBANY, NEW YORK – New U.S. Census Bureau data reveals that just before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the Capital Region had seen the fastest growth in applications to form businesses over the last five years out of New York’s 10 economic development regions. Even more, during that 2015-2019 period and among major Northeast counties1, Albany County experienced the fastest business application growth, according to a Center for Economic Growth (CEG) analysis.

“Whether it is a new software solution, clean energy technology, consumer products or new packaged food idea, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and kicking in the Capital Region,” said CEG Senior Vice President Michael Lobsinger. “Entrepreneurs have a gift for recognizing opportunities, especially in times of economic downturns. These downturns often lead to new innovations and, for those who experience pandemic-induced layoffs, a pivot and pursuit of their passions. Whatever the reason, they have a broad entrepreneurship support base in the Capital Region,”

“The business growth team at the Capital Region Chamber has seen a definite uptick of inquiries and requests for assistance from entrepreneurs planning to start, reposition or grow their business. Many are folks who see this time as an opportunity to develop a business idea they have been dreaming about for years. Others, because they want or need to find a new path to income,” said Laura Mann, the Capital Region Chamber’s vice president of business growth. “The ingenuity of our regional entrepreneurs never ceases to amaze me and no more than ever I think we are all, as resource ecosystem partners, working harder together and more cohesively to spur success in our region.”

See this Success Story on QTH 54, a New York software startup that is thriving amid COVID-19 with help from CEG Business Growth Solutions (BGS).

Business Formation Growth Trends

In 2019, there were 9,111 applications for business formation in the eight-county Capital Region, up 35 percent from 2015. The New York economic development regions with the next fastest-growing business application growth rates were the Mid-Hudson (18.7 percent) and Finger Lakes (15.7 percent) regions.

In the Capital Region, Albany County experienced the largest increase in business applications during the five-year period, rising 67.7 percent to 3,836. It was followed by Schenectady County, at 32.3 percent to 1,064, and Greene County, at 23.5 percent to 357. Among the 82 Northeast counties with at least 1,000 annual business applications in 2019, Albany County was the fastest-growing among them during the five-year period. It was followed by Rhode Island’s Kent County (62.6 percent), Massachusetts’ Merrimack County (57.9 percent) and Pennsylvania’s Dauphin County (56.3 percent). Ranking fifth, and adjacent to the Capital Region, was Massachusetts’ Berkshire County (55.3 percent).

Ballston Spa National Bank President & CEO Christopher R. Dowd, said, “The new data affirms the resiliency of the economy and people in the region, and we applaud the entrepreneurial spirit of these new businesses. BSNB has experienced a similar uptick in new business applications and is well positioned to provide support through effective utilization of credit enhancement programs offered through partners such as SBA and Pursuit, formerly known as the New York Business Development Corporation. Despite the uncertainties in the current environment, BSNB is focused on the development of new business relationships and looks forward to the continued growth of the region.”

“The Capital Region continues to be an optimal location to start and grow a business, and these statistics provide the proof of our supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Matthew Grattan, the director of community and economic development for the University at Albany’s Division for Research. “The growth in business formations within our region is a testament to the collaborative network of over 25 incubators, accelerators and entrepreneurial service providers that make up Innovate 518. Entrepreneurs are increasingly aware that the support systems are in place in our region to maximize their opportunity for commercial success.”

COVID-19 Impacts

Last spring, COVID-19 had a marked impact on business formation activity, sending business applications statewide down over the year by 20.2 percent to 48,724 in Q2 2020. However, New York business applications surged in Q3 2020 to 85,517. On top of being a 60 percent year-over-year increase, that was a record number of quarterly applications for New York. It by far surpassed the previous high of 64,662 set in Q1 2018. Many of those applications may be coming from workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic, but the above-noted Capital Region trend preceded COVID-19.

CEG Initiatives

As a regional technology center under the New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, CEG’s Business Growth Solutions (BGS) unit offers a menu of support services for entrepreneurs. These include improving access to facilities, prototyping support with 3D printer services, and identifying potential investors, mentors, and resources. BGS also provides opportunities for startups to showcase business ideas through programs such as VentureB and the New York State High School Business Model Competition. CEG is supporting the formation and growth of local minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) and disadvantaged small businesses through KeyBank Business Boost & Build (KBBB). Chamber support services for entrepreneurs include, loan programs, entrepreneur boot camps and an MWBE program.

Upcoming CEG BGS, Innovate518 and Chamber entrepreneurship events include:

Revisiting Your Target Market

Has your business model pivoted? Use these tools to reevaluate your market size and customer profile so you can successfully tell your market story.

Nov. 17, 6:00-7:30pm

MENTORSHIP: Change Your Work, Change your Life, and Change you

Discuss best practices for building mentorship-mentee relationships and how to set and achieve measurable goals together, and more.

Nov. 23, 4:00-5:00pm

Make Your Numbers Work for You

Plan for business success by understanding your profit & loss statement and balance sheet.

Nov. 24, 6:00-7:30pm

Pitch Your Pivot Competition  

A live, virtual competition sponsored by KeyBank Business, Boost & Build, featuring 5 finalists pitching to win $5,000.

Dec. 9: 9 6:00-8:00pm

Entrepreneur Boot Camp

An award-winning 60-hour intensive training program that guides would-be entrepreneurs and existing businesses through the step-by-step process of starting, operating and managing a business. The program is held two nights per week over the course of 12 weeks.

Feb. 3



1 Counties with at least 1,000 annual applications.



The Center for Economic Growth (CEG), an affiliate of the Capital Region Chamber, is the Capital Region’s regional economic development organization, supported by hundreds of investors in business, government, education, and the not-for-profit sectors. CEG is also a New York Empire State Development Division of Science, Technology and Innovation-designated Regional Technology Development Center and an affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)/Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). For more information, visit



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