GLENS FALLS — EDC Warren County is adding two new positions to coordinate economic development efforts and improve communications, as the agency regroups following Edward Bartholomew’s death over the summer.
Interim President Jim Siplon updated the board on Tuesday on its budget for 2021. He said he is looking to bring the agency back to the four-person staff it had in 2019, but reorganize the office a bit.
One of the new positions would be economic development coordinator.
“This would be the first line of inquiry for anyone who would like support from the EDC,” Siplon said.
He said this person would be much more than an office administrator but would oversee the agency’s loan portfolio and maintain records.
The other new position is a communications director. Siplon said this person would not just be responsible for updating the website with compelling content and handling social media, but would also serve as the primary point of contact for EDC members.
“If we can find somebody who has economic development experience, particularly with grant writing or working with community-based organizations, that’s going to be a plus,” he said.
The website needs to be updated and simplified, according to Siplon. There is currently a lot of technical information for developers, but he would like to have more information about local demographics and the community at large.
“The website is primarily a gateway for people who want to learn more either about coming here themselves or establishing a business here,” he said.
In addition, he anticipates that this person would be in charge of one of Siplon’s initiatives — capturing people who are relocating from downstate to this area to live or start businesses.
“Our biggest growth area is going to be overseen by that person,” he said.
Siplon anticipates an increase in economic activity. He said three developers have approached the EDC about potential projects downtown including a recreational one to increase waterfront access. Siplon did not disclose specifics, since they are just at the discussion stage.
Siplon has restructured the office to take some of the duties that Bartholomew had handled, including managing community development funds, which are used for initiatives such as the First Time Homebuyers Program, and turned them back over to the city.
That will allow EDC to focus on economic development, he said.
The budget for personnel is being increased from about $305,000 to $435,000. In addition, he is investing in some initiatives, including building a year-round tourism economy and expanding broadband coverage. The EDC is working on updated maps to find out where there are gaps in coverage.
Some Warren County supervisors have criticized the EDC for having a large fund balance. Siplon said the organization has about $1 million in its cash accounts. About half of that is reserved for specific purposes, however, including loan programs.
Siplon said he is looking to spend down some of the surplus by about $150,000 for three years because some of the new initiatives will require spending more than the agency has coming in.
“I think we found the right path. I think people are eager to see us invest beyond our income, but they also want to make sure whatever we do is sustainable,” he said.
Board members liked the spending proposal.
“I can’t think of a better time for us to be investing in economic development than right now,” said SUNY Adirondack President Kristine Duffy.