OC Partnership Helps Bring Businesses and Jobs
GOSHEN—Beer manufacturer Kikkerfrosch recently got final approvals from the Goshen Planning Board and is now clearing land off Route 17 to build its 100,000 square foot facility. The Orange County Partnership (OCP) laid the foundation for the economic victory by partnering with the Village of Goshen, JEDI-style.
“It’s been in our pipeline for about a year or so,” said OCP’s president Maureen Halahan. The company’s arrival is the result of a long-term joint effort that Halahan called the Goshen JEDI, or Joint Economic Development Initiative.
The county has seen several microbreweries coming in that produce 60,000 barrels of beer or less. Kikkerbrosch is much larger and plans on producing 300,000 barrels of German-style lager a year. Halahan said the company will offer 80 jobs and bring more than $300,000 in capital investment to the venture.
“This is an exciting first step in what will be a strong relationship between the village and Kikkerfrosch,” said Goshen Mayor Kyle Roddey. “This welcomed addition to our community will increase our tax base and create new job opportunities.”
Through concerted JEDI efforts, Halahan said Goshen asked how they could bring in more revenue through balanced growth. “There are opportunities to create the right corridors for the right kind of growth,” Halahan said. Another shovel-ready site in Goshen will soon welcome the natural foods company Amy’s Kitchen.
Halahan said it takes patience and education to achieve this kind of success. One opportunity the county lost out on happened before the JEDI began its work. Macy’s wanted to build a million square foot distribution center on the parcel now ticketed for Amy’s Kitchen. “It was perfect. It was shovel-ready. We were in the game. We had all the people at the table,” Hallahan said.
Goshen was not enamored with the project. Macy’s site selector took note, and Macy’s located its facility in West Virginia. “Who loses a New York company to West Virginia? Of all my 13 years, it was a tough one.”
OCP learned from the misstep. They met with the chairman of the planning board, the mayor, the town supervisor. From those discussions a monthly meeting developed that was called the Goshen JEDI. OCP worked with Goshen’s concerns by identifying corridors for business growth.
Economic development is what OCP is all about. Former three-term County Executive Lou Heimbach wanted a private sector organization that would take on the marketing and sales of all the development in the county. He approached local chambers, business leaders, banks, and utility companies. Halahan said Heimbach wanted “a place to conduct economic development.”
A 501(c)6 nonprofit that includes chambers of commerce, business leagues, boards of trade and similar organizations, OCP operates within a $900,000 budget. OCP works closely With the county’s Industrial Development Agency. Halahan calls it a “a very close relationship.”
OCP helps municipalities in what Halahan calls balanced growth. The Partnership looks at a town’s residential and commercial sectors and where a company could fit in. “Along the major roadways, where the water and sewer pipes are, this is where we want our big development.”
There are, of course, NIMBYs (“not in my back yard”) who don’t want companies in their neighborhood. Halahan encourages residents with this mindset to ensure the right zoning is in place before companies want to move in. “We all live here. There’s a right place for these types of projects that create jobs and bring investment here to the county. It’s all about balance.”
Unfortunately, some in the county close their minds to any kind of development—BANANAS (“build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything”). Halahan said OCP takes the middle road and sticks to facts at public hearings. “We never get emotional.”
OCP gives planning boards the facts about the company, how much water or sewer will be needed in a project, how many jobs will be created, what incentives the state is proposing. “That’s what we do,” Halahan said.
The rest, she says, is a formulaic process that starts with municipal approvals and environmental reviews. The company will meet with the local planning board, get required permits, submit a site plan, and allow for public comment. The Partnership’s approval process guide says it may seem a daunting task to a company, but ultimately makes for a better relationship in the community.
OCP’s Director of Business Attraction Bill Fioravanti said businesses are impressed with the reception they receive when checking out a site in the county. OCP knows local firms who can help an incoming business. “They know the lay of the land,” Fioravanti said. “They know the political landscape, and we just help make those connections.”
On the Horizon
OCP investors held a quarterly meeting on Jan. 28. The meetings provide a forum for businesses to discuss development projects in an open and forthright way. They hear what’s in OCP’s project pipeline and where there are opportunities for their business.
One company that generates a lot of excitement is the LEGO Group. Talk is swirling around that the company is interested in sites near New York City for another LEGOLAND park. Halahan said one of the state’s best site selectors is working with the conglomerate for sites that would work for them.
Fioravanti said the company expects two million visitors a year, which would be a tourism coup for the county. A grant application submitted to the state indicated a projected $250 million capital investment.
In Warwick a private corporation has converted a prison into a shovel-ready technology park. The businessmen and local officials in Warwick saw what could happen when the state closed prisons—crack houses, deteriorating buildings, uncared for premises, and jobs lost.
The Warwick Valley Office & Technology Corporate Park is the vision of Supervisor Mike Sweeten and his dream team, according to Halahan. They formed the Warwick Valley LDC to develop 10 pad sites on the site’s approximately 49 acres.
An investor bought the site and put in roads and signage and cleaned up the buildings. Halahan says one building has been sold and another is about to close. The park received one million in grants from state and county IDAs.
Halahan appreciates its value. “We are marketing the heck out of it.”
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