By R.J. DeLuke
EDC Warren County is the key driver of economic development efforts in the Glens Falls area and as such, its staff is always busy.
Toward the top of the tasks this time of year is giving businesses and municipalities in the county assistance with application process for the annual Capital Region Economic Development Council grant awards. The state doles out millions statewide through its Consolidated Funding by New York State program. The funding helps many economic development projects in the area—for businesses and municipalities. The applications are competitive, so interested parties must submit compelling information. In the first eight rounds of the state money competition, New York has given out $6.1 billion to 10 regions. The Capital Region, that includes Warren and Washington counties, has received $588.9 million for 813 projects over the past eight years. Last year, the counties raked in about $9.8 million.
EDC helps Warren County companies and municipalities with their funding applications for this state program. “It is part of our one-stop services for municipalities as well as businesses in Warren County,” Ed Bartholomew, president and CEO of EDC Warren County, said.
EDC will hold a workshop in the spring to help explain the guidelines for the applications. He is currently waiting for the state to come out with its changes. Too much application work before than can be wasted if it turns out that regulations are altered.
The applications are due in late July and awards announced in December.
Bartholomew said an early start is important, because it takes a lot of staff time to assemble the necessary information.
“You can’t just sit down on a day in July and get an application done,” he said.
For businesses, awards are limited to 20 percent of a project, so the company involved has to decide “where are we going to get the 80 percent to commit to this plan?” Bartholomew said.
He said the state has done a good job of getting the newest information to the EDC each year. “We try to get as much new information as we can so we’re not giving incorrect information.” He anticipated that a roundtable meeting will be held in May.
The EDC is also busy of late trying to get more funding for the village of Lake George, which needs a wastewater treatment facility, estimated to cost $22 million. It has received some $5 million from the state, but is in need of more funding. Bartholomew said EDC has been working with state officials to help out the village. He recently made a trip to Albany with Eric Siy, head of the FUND for Lake George, to make the case for the funding.
He explained the village only has 1,000 residents and the cost can’t be shouldered by them. It is important to be funded, because pollution issues eventually effect tourism—a major part of the local economy. Visitors to the lake spend millions over time.
“The lake has such an economic impact in the Adirondacks,” said Bartholomew. “It’s critical we all band together to get more state funding.”
The state funding would not cover all costs. He expects the county to help, because of the impact of tourism on the economy, and the villlage may have to find funding options to meet the rest of the expenses.
A good piece of economic news came when Glens Falls was selected as the site—once again—to host the New York State Public High School Athletic Association basketball championship tournament. They won a three-year contract that begins in 2020. The tournament had been played in the downtown Glens Falls arena from 1981 through 2017. It was moved to Binghamton for 2017-19.
“We had a great run,” said Bartholomew, and he hopes that can continue beyond 2020.
According to the EDC, the tournament routinely brings in more than 15,000 coaches, athletes and families and fans to the region, and has an estimated $1.5-$2 million impact on the local economy. Between 400 and 500 hotel rooms were booked in the region each year during the three-day event.
“For one weekend, the March madness is in Glens Falls and it will happen again in 2020,” Bartholomew said. “You’re getting the top teams from each region for a three-day weekend.”
He said area restaurants from downtown Glens Falls to South Glens Falls and through the Queensbury area all do very well during such a weekend. They are assisted by a strong team of volunteers from tourism agencies and the city.
Improvements to Cool Insuring Arena also played a role in winning the competitive bid. Some $3 million was invested since the last time the tournament was in Glens Falls. A new marquee, sound system, scoreboard and roof repairs are among the improvements.
By R.J. DeLuke