Business is booming, Partnership says

From Amy's to Legoland, business leaders tout a resurgence in development

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  • After their talk at the Goshen Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting, Orange County Partnership Director of Business Attraction Bill Fioravanti (left) and President and CEO Maureen Halahan pose with Goshen Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Terry Smallin. (Photo by Geri Corey)

By Geri Corey

— Orange County is a prime area for commercial development. It’s within 60 miles of New York City, in close proximity to interstate highways, railway systems, a major river, an international airport, and it has shovel ready properties available.

There are 10 shovel ready sites in various stages, including the 90-acre Kikkerfrosch parcel now vacant and ready for development in the village.

Marketing the area is Orange County Partnership, and President and CEO Maureen Halahan and Director of Business Attraction Bill Fioravanti spoke to members of the business community on commercial happenings in Orange County at the latest Goshen Chamber of Commerce meeting.

In 2016, there were 26 projects closed that included new businesses and expansions, creating 684 jobs in 1,375, 387 square feet of space, totaling a $175,797,125 capital investment in Orange County.

“Investors have a lot of confidence in Orange County. We’re seeing more confidence in companies, aggressive behavior to relocate here to expand or grow,” said Fioravanti, adding, “Speculative development is on the rise and there’s a resurrection of cold projects, wanting to come back. “ He noted that the Partnership works closely with municipalities for good communication.

Orange County Partnership is a not-for-profit office that partners with the Orange County Office of Economic Development and the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) to promote area growth.

The IDA promotes economic growth through offering incentives to encourage job creation and retention through mortgage tax exemptions, real property abatements and more. The IDA doesn’t fund projects, but it offers incentives to make the area appealing for development, said Halahan.

In the past five years, of the 60 projects the Partnership worked on, just 22 percent were provided incentives through the Orange County IDA.

As a not-for-profit organization, several hundred pro business leaders are investors in Orange County Partnership to support their efforts.

The Partnership markets through a newsletter, trade shows, a website and works with brokers, both local and those beyond Orange County borders. On May 11, the Orange County Partnership is hosting a bi-annual event to draw interested people to the area. Focusing on industrial, office and urban sections, the Partnership plans to use hi-tech methods, including virtual tours to engage the audience.

Changes are taking place in Orange County. With construction of the Orange Regional Medical Center in Middletown, former medical space is available at the pavilion on Crystal Run Road and when the Orange County Government Center re-opens on Main Street in Goshen, buildings on Route 17M will be vacated, making them available for new businesses.

The good news is that cities are experiencing revitalization efforts, opening up business opportunities in Middletown and Newburgh.

Said Fioravanti, “Young people want to live in urban areas where they can walk to stops, restaurants, go to concerts and have mass transportation, and this creates opportunities for business.”

“There’s a resurgence of development in our cities. Through great vision and leadership, Newburgh and Middletown are on their way back,” said Halahan.

Middletown’s Mayor Joseph DeStefano just received a $10 million grant from New York State geared for revitalization of the downtown business district. Middletown competed against 100 other municipalities to win the grant.

Not forgotten: A supermarket for Goshen Touching on current projects, Fioravanti said that Amy’s Kitchen is waiting tree-clearing approval from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; however, he received an update from someone in the audience, Town of Goshen Supervisor Doug Bloomfield, who said, “The Planning Board is done; the project received approval for tree cutting. Amy’s here—the job is done!”

“This will create 691 new jobs,” said Fioravanti.

Speaking in favor of Legoland theme park coming to Goshen, Fioravanti noted that members of the Partnership had gone to Legoland Florida and met with Chamber members there and “heard great things.”

Addressing traffic — residents number one concern — he said, “A fly over is a panacea, but if it doesn’t happen, free-flowing traffic with a long access line will work.

“I can’t say enough good things about Legoland. It’s a total game changer. I hope it happens,” he said.

Explaining another facet of the Partnership, Fioravanti talked about Milmar Foods, a food manufacturing plant in Goshen that needed water and sewer to expand their business. With the Village now providing water, he said, “We worked diligently on this to help an existing business stay in Goshen.”

As for the Goshen Plaza—still in need of a grocery store — Fioravanti noted that the Partnership is trying to help by recruiting Amy’s to help get a supermarket.

Fioravanti summed up business opportunities in Orange County this way, “We got it all—farmland, three nice small cities that have that urban feel with diversity, and everything in between.”

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