Warren County EDC President Ed Bartholomew (left) met with Warrensburg officials and citizens Aug. 21, discussing strategies to attract new businesses and create local jobs. Listening to Bartholomew talk about the town’s prospects are citizen activist Ruth Fruda (center) and town board member Linda Marcella, chair of the Warrensburg Economic Development committee.
The area’s top leading guru on economic development told Warrensburg officials this week that job creation and prosperity depends on thinking regionally, having up-to-date infrastructure in place and cooperating with other municipalities and government agencies.
Ed Bartholomew, Warren County EDC President met with town of Warrensburg government and community leaders Aug. to discuss prospects for economic development in town — and to update them on ongoing efforts to spur the local economy.
Barrtholomew said that out-of-state enterprises were interested in building a wood-pellet manufacturing plant in Warrensburg or Chester, and he had met with officials of one of the firms, along with representatives of state agencies involved in permitting such a new operation. He said that the company in question was seeking to build a plant that would employ 20 to 25 people and have a $20 million annual impact on the area.
Regardless of what town such an enterprise locates in, residents of the region will benefit because of the jobs and the additional money circulating locally, he said.
Such a regional mindset is particularly appropriate in boosting tourism, as vacationers typically seek many activities throughout the area, he said. Bartholomew noted that a tourism summit among executives of the major area attractions, tourism-related entrepreneurs and community leaders, is scheduled for Oct. 30.
“We have to think regionally and work together,” he said. “Tourists know they like the area, without knowing the particular town they are in at any point.”
Bartholomew also praised the Saratoga-North Creek Railway officials for pursuing new deals to haul freight.
“The railway is a good example of all the great assets this region has,” he said.
He said that ideas now circulating for enhancing tourism in the region include developing tours of historic sites as well as galleries and artists’ studios — which are plentiful here, Bartholomew said.
Tourism by art enthusiasts is a growing trend, he said, noting that 42,000 people visited The Hyde in Glens Falls last year specifically to see the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit.
Infrastructure — whether it’s municipal sewage treatment, good roads or broadband access — need to be in place to attract new industries, he said.
Also, people are increasingly discriminating about where they choose to live, and they want communities that are convenient and aesthetically pleasing for pedestrians and bicyclists, he said.
Municipal officials need to be aggressive in lining up grant funding so they can readily partner with business owners to enhance their storefronts, he said, noting that attractive streetscapes are vital.
Grant funding depends on having a municipal master plan in place that is backed up with real data on what local people want in their community, he said. He added that Warrensburg’s recent survey was “very helpful” in this regard.
Bartholomew said Warrensburg now is on a roll, with the expanded Warrensburg Health Center under construction and the new Price Chopper supermarket nearby, — with both enterprises providing jobs as well as drawing many people into town.
He predicted the Warrensburg Health Center would be attracting new residents as well as businesses and industry, because it was bringing a sense of vitality to town as well as providing accessibility to health care, particularly new specialized services.
“You have a lot of assets — this is a great area,” he told Warrensburg officials.
Warrensburg Supervisor Kevin Geraghty offered his thoughts.
“We’’ve been very busy making contacts and assisting buinesses seeking to locate here,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of projects now underway in town.”