FORT EDWARD The last public forum focused on economic development opportunities in Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties will be held Monday, wrapping up 18 months of presentations and data collection in the region.
The results will be compiled into an economic development strategy that is expected to be delivered next month by the Adirondack Gateway Council.
Over the past year and a half, the coalition of local governments, economic development groups and planning agencies hosted forums discussing agriculture, healthy communities, wastewater and sewer treatment needs, affordable housing, transportation and cell and broadband coverage.
“We’re still looking for participation from the public,” said Edward Bartholomew, the coalition’s chief executive officer.
Online surveys can be found on the council’s website, www.agcny.org.
Bruce Hoch, managing director of DCG Corplan, a consulting firm based in New Jersey, delivered a presentation Thursday to forum attendants in Fort Edward, explaining the strengths and at-risk industry areas in the three counties.
Hoch discussed how industry clusters share common supply chains, labor needs, technologies and markets. Targeting businesses as clusters and linking their core products or services create strong economic interdependence.
Hoch’s presentation showed a wide range of areas that have a presence in the region, including furniture product manufacturing, wholesaling of durable goods, business, financial and insurance services, home and garden retail, health care, medical and consumer products manufacturing, nonmetallic mineral products, paper and packaging and tourism and leisure.
The data shared by Hoch came from industries that showed growth in the state and Capital Region, though that’s not a definitive indicator of forecasted growth in AGC territory.
Some of the industries are also included on a list of at-risk businesses, such as paper product manufacturing.
“Those are companies you go to and ask, ‘What do you need?’ There may be a way to keep these companies here if you ask,” Hoch said.
“We’re really good at ribbon-cutting,” he said. “Don’t wait until a company is pulling up stakes.”
The focus, said Hoch, is to promote new business and job creation while helping to prevent other companies from leaving.
The council’s final report will also be delivered to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has authorized the coalition to update its broadband planning grant agreement. The update would include using a portion of the funding to hire a consultant to apply for a state broadband grant program.
The AGC is a not-for-profit organization formed in 2011 and consists of more than 20 municipalities and organizations. A grant from HUD is assisting to fund the development of the economic development strategy.