March 23 2017

Good communities key to business growth, speaker says

The Saratogian

By: Paul Post

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. >> Attracting new companies to a region hinges on having a high-quality workforce.

But recruiting top talent also means giving people a nice place to live with amenities to enjoy when not working.

It’s one of the main things major employers look at before moving to an area, said Andrew Kennedy, president and CEO of the Albany-based Center for Economic Growth.

“It’s creating exciting communities for people to live in,” he said. “You’ve seen that in Saratoga. You’re seeing it here (Glens Falls). This becomes a destination for people to go to shops, restaurants and art galleries. It’s telling that story, selling the region.”

Kennedy was one of three principal speakers at a business breakfast hosted by Warren County EDC, with more than 150 people on hand, at the Queensbury Hotel on Wednesday.

The event’s theme was “Connecting Warren County and the Capital Region.”

Downtown Glens Falls is in the midst of a significant revitalization with major investments such as 14 Hudson, a five-story mixed-use complex developed by Bonacio Construction of Saratoga Springs. When completed this year, the five-story project, adjacent to Glens Falls Hospital, will have ground-floor retail space, second-floor commercial offices and up to 90 apartments on upper floors.

People living downtown, including medical professionals and empty-nesters, are within easy walking distance of cafes, restaurants, the popular Wood Theater and Glens Falls Civic Center, which hosts numerous sports and entertainment events throughout the year.

“We need to do a better job of retaining people in the region,” Kennedy said.

In some cases, this may require making students at area colleges — such as RPI, Union, SUNY Albany, Skidmore — more aware of what the area has to offer. Because sometimes students are insulated on college campuses, and take jobs in other parts of the country that seem more appealing, he said.

Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover told about more than $4 million in recent capital improvements to his small town on the west side of Lake George.

A new pier, in a park-like setting, has been built allowing steamboats to dock just a block from downtown, providing easy access for passengers seeking out places to shop and eat. Also, a new Visitors Center has been constructed and a local history museum has undergone a major expansion.

“The Visitors Center and museum are a wonderful gateway to our area,” Conover said. “I can’t say enough about the collaborative work that went into both of those projects.”

Such work was paid for with a combination of public and private funds.

Apart from downtown, multiple groups have also partnered to develop trails overlooking the lake that afford beautiful 180-degree views. Conover said an estimated 6,000 people hiked a roughly mile-long trail to The Pinnacle last year.

“People have always come to Bolton and the Adirondacks for the vistas, views and clean water,” he said. “Those things are still relevant today.”

It’s these kinds of features that both employers and employees consider before deciding where to establish their businesses and careers, Kennedy said.

“We’re actively and aggressively marketing the region,” he said.

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