Soon after being named the new president of EDC Warren County, Ed Bartholomew addresses the Warren County Board of Supervisors at their August meeting. In pursuing a regional approach to economic development, Bartholomew has pledged to focus on the needs of rural communities as well as the area’s metropolitan municipalities.
Less than a month in his new position, new Warren County economic development czar Edward Bartholomew has pledged he will be giving rural and metropolitan communities equal attention.
Just weeks ago, Bartholomew was named the new President of EDC Warren County, the lead agency for economic and industrial development in the county. As of Jan. 1, this new combined position incorporates his role as Glens Falls Economic and Community Development director —and until that time, he formally serves in both positions.
In an interview this week, Bartholomew said he’d be concentrating on boosting the economies of the rural northern Warren County towns — as well as Queensbury and the city of Glens Falls.
Bartholomew said he’s already met with community leaders in North Creek as well as executives of the Saratoga-North Creek Railway, talking about how his agency might assist in developing freight traffic on the railroad.
He added that he will be meeting soon with municipal leaders of the towns of Chester, Warrensburg, Thurman and Bolton, as well as the other northern Warren County communities.
“We’ll be working toward obtaining more assistance for roads and other infrastructure projects, looking into various loan programs, and helping make sure the towns’ existing sites get marketed,” he said, noting the upcounty towns’ industrial parks, as well as the former Warrensburg Board & Paper Co. site. “Jobs in Warrensburg, Bolton, Chester and North Creek are just as important as jobs in the lower half of the county.”
Bartholomew said he’d be touring areas throughout Warren County to obtain a first-hand look at the condition of the public infrastructure, listening to municipal leaders’ concerns and their towns’ particular needs.
Extending broadband access, he said, was one particular issue he’d be exploring, he added.
Bartholomew said that during these visits to upcounty communities, he’d be visiting with business owners and managers, assessing what they might need to expand operations and create more jobs.
“I look forward to working with these wonderful small businesses as well as the large corporations,” he said. “We all have to be on the same page and keep people posted on how we can be helpful, and how they too can be helpful.”
Bartholomew: Tourism a leading priority
Bartholomew said that tourism development would be a new focus of EDC Warren County.
“Considering that 18 to 20 percent of the county’s employment is related to tourism, we need to be working closely with chambers of commerce and area tourism officials to put together a more comprehensive plan,” he said.
Bartholomew continued that he was going to be taking a regional approach to economic development, by building collaborative efforts with community and business leaders throughout Warren County as well as neighboring counties and the Capital Region. His new merged position, which is to save the city of Glens Falls $50,000 per year, follows that theme.
This regional approach, Bartholomew said, was the most effective avenue to pursue in an era of shrinking grant funding — and the state’s new criteria for regionalization of development efforts.
“We’ll be building consensus — and there will be more sharing as we establish regional priorities and determine how we can collectively work together on our objectives,” he said.
Bartholomew’s regional approach runs parallel with his ongoing multiple roles in public service. He will be continuing as CEO of the Greater Glens Falls Local Development Corp., the Glens Galls Industrial Development Agency, and the Adirondack Gateway Council.
EDC Warren Co. to go public
Along with this change in leadership, EDC Warren County is converting from a private corporation to a public entity.
In the past, such private economic development corporations were seen as a effective, legal way to convey grants and loans to private firms while skirting laws prohibiting government from benefiting private entities.
Bartholomew said that the new public structure of EDC Warren County will help avoid potential legal concerns — as well as issues with the state Comptroller’s office.
“Since we’re funded with public money, we need to be accountable and have things transparent,” he said, noting that going forward, EDC Warren County will have elected officials on the agency’s board of directors, and meeting minutes will be posted online.
Bartholomew has Albany connections
Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Kevin Geraghty said Sept. 9 that Bartholomew was the ideal choice to lead EDC Warren County, after the recent departure of former agency president Vicki Pratt Gerbino.
“This is a very positive step for both Warren County and the city of Glens Falls,” Geraghty said. “Ed is a proven leader and a tireless worker. He’s accomplished a lot through the regional Adirondack Gateway Council — and in his new position with EDC Warren County, he’s already working on behalf of the upcounty towns.”
Geraghty continued that Bartholomew’s years of experience as a legislative counsel in Albany — including special counsel to the state Senate majority — would be valuable in getting economic initiatives accomplished.
“Ed knows the key players in all the levels of state government,” Geraghty said.
EDC Warren County Board of Directors President Chuck Barton said choosing Bartholomew to lead the agency addressed all the organization’s new objectives.
“We’re very excited to have Ed Bartholomew on board — he’ll be facilitating better collaboration within the county, the region, and down in Albany,” Barton said. “We think this is a game-changer for economic development in Warren County.”