By Fred Stabbert III
Town of Delaware Supervisor Ed Sykes sat back in his seat last Wednesday night, looking his...
If you thought local municipalities exist only to serve their own constituencies think again.
In a show of collaboration underscoring that “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” the County of Sullivan, Town of Thompson and Town of Liberty – including the Village – have decided to invest in working cooperatively as well as financially to ready Sullivan County for future economic development investment.
The Partnership for Economic Development in Sullivan County began engaging Town and County officials late in 2016 and through the winter to encourage them to each invest in an analysis of the Old Route 17 Corridor that runs between the Village of Liberty and Town of Thompson.
The area is home to several significant employers like Nonni’s, Pestech, Alumitech, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, La Belle Poultry, UPS, D.C. Welding, and other service oriented small businesses.
In an effort to become more competitive in the region and beyond, the Partnership identified over 400+ acres of land, zoned Industrial/Commercial suitable for the attraction or expansion of light manufacturing, distribution, assembly, and food processing type businesses.
“Easy access to NYS 17/I-86, its location between our two largest urban centers and little residential impact where just a few of a list of key factors that lead the organization to focus in this area,” said Marc Baez, President/CEO of the Partnership. “The cost and declining available land in the lower Hudson Valley suited for Industrial Commercial development creates a unique market opportunity for us.”
A concern is that the area is once again becoming too tourism dependent. While all of the extraordinary investment is of course most welcome indeed, the idea of providing for a broader commercial market for both investment and job opportunities helps to hedge against severe setbacks in the economy which are cyclical.
“Not everyone is suited for or may desire to work in the hospitality industry” says Bill Rieber, Supervisor of the Town of Thompson.
Russell Reeves, Town Councilman for the Town of Liberty, agrees, “It’s about beginning the process of putting together the necessary steps to increase our tax base.”
That is something the Town of Liberty is focused on to help bolster a tax base that was decimated when its large tourism properties left decades ago.
The analysis, which is budgeted at $160,000, will look at the suitability of land, geotechnical issues, slopes, current zoning, cost to provide infrastructure, competitive market factors and other elements as part of a list of criteria to assess the work that will be needed to make this corridor as shovel ready as possible.
The work will help make the area truly ready for the intense competition for potential employers in the industrial/commercial market place.
“With all of the hard work and time we collectively put in to create the current investment environment, we must keep the momentum going in a variety of areas to reach the full potential of the Sullivan County economy,” said Ira Steingart, Chairman of both the IDA and the Sullivan County Community and Economic Development committee.
With multiple municipalities working together to accomplish this and other economic development goals, Sullivan County can rightfully say it is a business friendly community.