By Maureen Werther
As the economic climate in Warren and Washington counties continues to heat up, more businesses are being attracted to the area’s diverse commercial sector. The Center for Economic Growth (CEG) is one of several entities working hard to make things happen.
CEG is one of several organizations working with already established businesses to support them as they grow. They market the area to potential new companies whose technologies, services and manufacturing will be a good fit with the existing businesses.
The $10 million revitalization initiative awarded to the city of Glens Falls last year has helped to spur continued growth in the region. More people are moving to the two counties seeking an enhanced quality of life, sustainable employment and access to good education and health care.
“CEG is the professional economic and business development engine serving as the primary point of contact for businesses interested in growing in or moving to New York’s Capital Region,” said Andrew Kennedy president and CEO of CEG. Among other things, CEG works with companies that are looking to expand or in need of entrepreneurship or workforce training and development.
Kennedy has been with CEG for two years and is excited about the continued growth and expansion he sees in Warren and Washington counties. He and his team partner with EDC Warren County, the Alliance for the Creative Economy (ACE) and Business Central at SUNY Adirondack and to work with companies across all areas of business growth and development.
While the main industries driving the economic growth in the region are in the healthcare field—Glens Falls Hospital is the largest employer in the region—and the medical devices industry, there are ancillary businesses cropping up to support those industries. The region is also seeing significant growth in the areas of agri-business, brewing and distilling, food entrepreneurship and the creative economy.
Tourism continues to be a big driver of the local economic engine, with Lake George and Bolton Landing both promoting their villages as year-round destinations, and Queensbury taking on the name of “gateway to the Adirondacks,” according to the local chambers of commerce.
The CEG recently partnered with ACE to hold a series of business roundtable events in each of the eight regions CEG focuses on. The Hyde Collection hosted the joint ACE-CEG event in Glens Falls on Feb. 27 and it was attended by members of the business community who were eager to discuss ways that the CEG and ACE can support their growth efforts in the region through marketing and branding themselves throughout the region.
Maureen Sager, director of ACE, has been thrilled with the response to the recent roundtables and open sessions.
“We are having a ball working with CEG on the Creative Economy Roundtable tour. Over four weeks, ACE and CEG are presenting six events that incorporate all eight counties of the Capital Region. Our Feb. 27 event at the Hyde Collection gathered 25 Washington and Warren county business leaders in a private session, followed by a public session with 110 attendees. That’s an absolutely astounding response, and we’re finding similar enthusiasm at every one of our events.
“Attendees have been surprised at the breadth and economic impact of the Creative Economy and they are extremely interested in the potential for a regional brand and identity that would make our eight counties a destination for businesses and tourists alike. We believe this is a watershed moment for the region.”
Kennedy is also working hand and hand with Kate Baker, the newly-named director of Business Central, a walk-in facility for students, entrepreneurs and businesses looking to start a business, expand an existing one, gain access to internships and job training or discovering new technologies that will have synergistic value for growing businesses. Business Central and CEG are both a big part of state-funded programs such as Innovate 518 and Start-Up New York.
Kennedy said CEG also helps businesses who are looking for funding opportunities through state and federal programs and it also works in conjunction with SUNY Adirondack and Business Central to implement its Pathways Project, a two-year, non-degree program that Kennedy likens to a “bootcamp” for individuals looking to advance in the field of manufacturing. They are also implementing an apprenticeship program aimed at taking the burdens of paperwork and “red tape” off the desks of the manufacturers.
Ed Bartholomew, president of Warren County EDC, said the county has been a major supporter of CEG since its inception.
“They provide a great resource and valuable economic data and business profiles. Their expertise in particular industries is a helpful tool for Warren County EDC, and we appreciate the outreach efforts of Andrew and his entire staff. We consider CEG to be a great asset to the EDC and to Warren County,” said Bartholomew.