GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Warren County Economic Development Corporation has had its hands in more projects across the city than one can easily count. Some, like the ongoing plan to bring a new farmer’s market space to South Street, have taken time. On Thursday, another new step long-deserved was taken – moving the group into a new office.
The Warren County EDC cut the ribbon on Thursday at their new office, located on the second floor of the historic former Empire Theater Plaza at 11 South St. County and town officials, along with many of the faces of local business across the city and the Adirondacks, came to congratulate the company, which is responsible for inviting and cultivating new businesses to call the county home.
“This is so heartening, and to me, it’s the happiest time since I took this job,” said EDC President Jim Siplon, in the new office’s meeting room overlooking South Street. “We’ve had such limited opportunities to get together and to see each other, but we’ve been working so hard together. In almost every face I look at, I can think back, and think of things we’ve done together to try and make this place better.”
Currently, that list of things includes the aforementioned South Street Marketplace project. First announced in 2019, the 10,000-square-foot plan has undergone some changes, many to do with the price of supplies as influenced by COVID-19. Whether it takes its original shape and size – now estimated as closer to 5,000 feet – or whether it incorporates more neighboring buildings on South Street than was originally planned, Siplon said the plan is to break ground on the market in 2022, one way or another.
Another priority mentioned by Siplon was broadband internet. The EDC has made improving high-speed internet access a priority, studying areas of need and pushing funding to expand, especially as a way to attract both businesses and remote workers to come to the foot of the Adirondacks. More than 90% of residences in Warren County now have access to a broadband connection – on par with numbers downstate. Next, the EDC is reaching across the county lines to help some neighbors.
“That’s an example of building a sustainable economy. We cannot be connected to the rest of the world at the end of a copper wire. It’s going to have to come on fiber,” Siplon said.
The EDC’s old home is nearby, at the Traveler’s Insurance building, located at 333 Glen St. That was the organization’s home when it was under the purview of EDC founder and former Glens Falls Mayor Ed Bartholomew, who passed away in 2020. From the city-bettering projects he left behind, to the stacks of his records that staff are still digitizing as they move to the new space, Bartholomew was remembered with reverence and love during Thursday’s remarks.
Siplon also talked about housing shortages, pointing to numbers indicating that a high number of homes now have twice the number of residents they did decades ago. The future of Glens Falls isn’t just in business – it’s about keeping young people in the area, and convincing them to stay. For that to happen, the community has to be ready for them.
“We need our schools to be refreshed; we need people to volunteer for EMS; we need young people to become volunteer firemen, and be on school boards, and just be part of what makes the community rich and vibrant,” Siplon said. “We have an opportunity because people say ‘I want to be here.’ Now, can we build enough houses?”
Representatives were present from the offices of State Senator Dan Stec and Assemblyman Matthew Simpson. The event was emceed by Michael Bittel, Chairman of the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce.
In June, the EDC is set to host Dr. Rachel Sederberg a researcher from Emsi Burning Glass, to speak at the group’s annual luncheon. Sederberg has been part of a discussion with the EDC about demographic drought.