The Matchmaker for Orange County Business
Orange County seeks successful and long-lasting matchups for companies to come here. “If you look at me as a sort of Match.com of businesses, that’s the way to do it,” said County Executive Steven Neuhaus.
Neuhaus works at settling in the county businesses that are a good match for the county and neighboring New York City. A company that makes fondant for high-end wedding cakes does a thriving business in Chester. California-based meal producer Amy’s Kitchen selected the county to build its east coast facility. A small creamery settled in Goshen and sells its craft cheeses at select NYC restaurants.
The county wants to keep and expand health care facilities at home. Bon Secours Charity Health System is in talks for a joint venture with a Westchester medical group. Orange Regional Medical Center just completed a major expansion and Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine settled in Middletown last year.
Significant tech and engineering companies are finding Stewart International Airport attractive. The county’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA) provides the incentives that make a company want to come.
“We have a very healthy industrial park, but we also have a good agricultural [sector], so it’s a good mix of everything,” according to Neuhaus.
A couple bought a 100-year-old dairy farm and now make artisan cheeses. They milk 36 dairy cows and produce their own brand of craft cheeses. Their business, 5 Spoke Creamery, promotes sustainable agriculture and environmentally friendly practices. Neuhaus sees this as a second life for dairy farms. “Usually you see dairy farms leave NY state and that trend is reversing.”
Neuhaus helped match up the cheese maker with a local grocery chain. He brought Shop Rite’s CFO to the creamery’s ribbon cutting ceremony.
The Orange County Partnership assists in making good matches for the county. The agency produced a study and finessed the get-acquainted process for Amy’s Kitchen. The company was impressed. The CEO said, “We’re coming here. This is the type of place we want.”
Satin Fine Foods, based in Chester, makes the fondant for artisan wedding cakes favored by high-end NYC customers. The county is assisting Satin Fine to take its product not just to bakeries, cake businesses, and restaurants, but to put it on the open market. Expanding to other markets takes a local business from a one-assembly line operation to a two- or three-line operation, according to Neuhaus.
Homegrown Health Care
Westchester Medical is in talks to purchase the Bon Secours medical group. Neuhaus expects the Bon Secours-Westchester Medical Center joint venture will expand health care services for county residents. Bon Secours operates two hospitals in Orange County: Bon Secours Community Hospital in Port Jervis and St. Anthony’s Community Hospital in Warwick.
Westchester Medical Center offers advanced medical care for more than 3.5 million people and operates Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, the only all-specialty children’s hospital in the region.
“Westchester Medical Center’s historic mission has been to ensure that all the residents of the Hudson Valley have the finest health care available as close to home as possible,” said Michael D. Israel, president and CEO of Westchester Medical Center.
The new cancer hospital at Orange Regional makes it easier for county residents to receive quality care.
Industry Takes Off
The industries that now operate in the county are manufacturing, construction, retail trade, transportation, and storage, and professional and technical services.
The county prides itself on a superior infrastructure. Three major highways intersect (I-84, I-87, and NY 17), an international airport (Stewart), 150 miles of freight and commuter rail, and the Hudson River can make all of the county’s 812-mile land area readily accessible.
The airport also now benefits from a $120 million interchange project, opened in 2009, which provides a direct link between Interstates 84 and 87 as well as a direct connection to the airport. Coach, the largest bus company in the United States, placed its headquarters in Chester.
The county fought hard to keep Stewart International Airport operating. When the Air Force replaced Vietnam-era C5 Galaxys, they moved to C17s, which could land on a short runway. Stewart was chosen as one of the bases for the new planes.
The aeronautics industry took note. Lockheed Martin and Boeing moved in to fix the new planes. Pratt & Whitney has had a presence in Wallkill for 10 years with two facilities and is now expanding to a third. The company produces aviation components for the F35 Raptor, the Air Force’s new fighter plane.
A trucking company called VetEx hires veterans as truck drivers with FedEx contracts.
If a company is deemed a good fit for the county, Neuhaus and his team do everything to make the match successful.
“I just don’t slap them a high five, ‘Hope you will consider coming here. We’ll see you in six months’ if you decide to come here. We walk them through the process.”