Creative Economy Mixer
Sponsor Spotlight: Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership
In 2018, Saratoga County continued to be one of the fastest-growing counties in New York State, and for good reason. With an educated workforce, great companies from diverse industry sectors, and a vibrant quality of place, we possess all the attributes that make our community a great investment for businesses and residents. Who wouldn’t want to invest, live, work, and raise a family here? Our future is bright, but it is important that we continue to lead the public and private sectors to plan for long-term growth. This means investing in infrastructure, developing our workforce, attracting talent, and encouraging our companies to innovate and invest in Saratoga County. Laying the foundation for future growth is the key to maintaining our economic prosperity today and long into the future.
Throughout 2018, the Saratoga Partnership marketed Saratoga County to businesses and site selectors throughout the world. We met with more than 75 companies and 60 site selectors to educate them on why Saratoga County is the ideal location for expansion. The Saratoga Partnership is why Saratoga County was successful in siting New York State’s largest battery storage project, Key Capture Energy project in Stillwater; why Proctors – Universal Preservation Hall is transforming a former church in Saratoga Springs into a year-round world class arts and cultural venue in downtown Saratoga after we assisted them with assistance through the Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency; why the Saratoga Partnership is working with the Ellms Family Farm, who will be investing in a $10M Saratoga Farm Hub, an agritainment venue and farm incubator project. The Saratoga Partnership’s pipeline of projects currently include over 37 companies that are considering investing and growing in Saratoga County. This pipeline represents over 1,200 jobs and $110 million in capital investment. Saratoga County is ripe for new investment and we anticipate more to come in 2019.
This year, the Saratoga Partnership attracted over 600 leading tech executives and professionals from around the world by hosting the first-ever Silicon Summit East in partnership with Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA), and the 8th annual SEMI ASMC Conference. In 2019, the Saratoga Partnership will continue to bring technology executives and professionals from around the world to Saratoga County. Shining a spotlight on Globalfoundries and our high-tech research and development assets will attract investments from the international business community
The Saratoga Partnership will continue to work with industry sectors throughout Saratoga County and the region, to address workforce challenges. Although Saratoga County’s economy is strong, our businesses aren’t immune to changes in our local and global economy. With low unemployment rates (2.9% Nov 2018) and a high workforce participation rate (68% of the workforce is working), our businesses are being challenged to find talent and fill in skills gaps left by baby boomers retiring from the workforce. This issue is not unique to Saratoga County. In 2018, the national unemployment rate—at 3.7% in November—sits near a 50-year low. Economist Hugh Johnson recently cautioned that our workforce shortage will impact economic output and new job growth if it is not addressed through workforce development.
Entering 2019, the Saratoga Partnership will continue to forge strong partnerships with our colleges and universities to develop innovative workforce development programs that meet the needs of the private sector. In January, we will be launching the first-ever Computer Coding workforce development program in Saratoga County in partnership with Albany Can Code, SUNY ADK and SUNY Schenectady. This program will train Saratoga County residents for high-paying tech job opportunities and fill the talent pipeline. The Saratoga Partnership will also launch Circles of 7 (C7) mentorship program to provide critical strategic business assistance to drive the success of entrepreneurs in Saratoga County. We will continue to work with our partners at SCORE, the SBA, Innovate518, CEG, and SUNY ADK, to deliver innovative tools that support the needs of our small businesses and spark the spirit of budding entrepreneurs.
To help our local communities plan for the future, the Saratoga Partnership has launched the Next Wave Communities program to assist local towns within Saratoga County in developing custom-tailored economic development plans. In 2018, the Town of Moreau became the inaugural Next Wave Community and we look forward to helping more communities throughout Saratoga County plan for a brighter future.
In 2018, we have seen uncertainty amongst our businesses about how to manage the global supply chains or deal with rising prices for imported components hit by tariffs. Heading into the new year, the Saratoga Partnership is prepared to assist our business community with these disruptions in global markets and grow their businesses. Through our Global Markets Advisory service led by Mary Estelle Ryckman, companies can draw on her 30 years of expertise in negotiating international trade agreements and supporting global commerce in Washington D.C. The Saratoga Partnership team is poised to assist the Saratoga County business community and work hand in hand with our communities to lay the groundwork for future business growth.
Our unique quality of life makes Saratoga County an ideal location to attract and retain talent and help our employers fill the jobs that exist today. However, maintaining and expanding economic prosperity cannot be taken for granted. The Saratoga Partnership’s public-private model is one which is replicated and used around the world to conduct economic development and will result in a strong economy in 2019 and beyond.
To learn more about the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, call 518.871.1887 or visit saratogapartnership.org.
Creative Economy Mixer: Troy Savings Bank Music Hall Photo Highlights
January’s #CreativeEconomyMixer was a hit! with over 220 in attendance Troy Savings Bank Music Hall we enjoyed beautiful installation created by Glowing Pictures, a performance by Albany Pro Musica, Signed up for the new ACE Jobhub, and received FREE headshots by Ska City Photography. We had delicious food from Sunhee’s Farm and Kitchen as well as beverages from Rare Form Brewing Company and Schmaltz Brewing Co. We discussed preservation of the arts in our communities and Rensselaer County Historical Society shared the history behind the box seating at the hall, and more! The Mixer began with a Taste of Troy Food Tour and ended at 518 Craft, with drinks and swing music! A VERY SPECIAL thank you to our sponsors MVP Health Care, Rensselaer County Historical Society and Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region, and promotional partners, Troy Cultural Alliance and Albany Pro Musica. Produced in partnership with 2440 Design Studio and WMHT Public Media.
Creative Economy Mixer at Electric City Barn: Photo Highlights
Our December Creative Economy Mixer was at the regions hottest new maker’s space, the Electric City Barn in Schenectady. December’s event featured drinks by Frog Alley Brewing, music by Shiri Zorn and George Muscatello, and a panel discussion moderated by Kat Koppett, Founder of KOPPETT, and Kristin Diotte, Director of Planning, Zoning and Community Development for the City of Schenectady, focuing on the role of the Creative Economy in downtown and community development. Thanks to our sponsors MVP Health Care, Community Loan Fund, and Redburn Development: The Fitzgerald Building, and our promotional partners Mopco and Koppett, Discover Schenectady and Black Dimensions In Art, Inc. Produced in partnership with 2440 Design Studio and WMHT.
Four Questions With: Michelle Hines Abram Thibeault,
The road to success isn’t always direct. Michelle Hines Abram Thibeault, the President of M.H.A. Innovations and Chef MHAT, reached lofty heights in the ballet world and trained at the New York Conservatory of Dance before injuries muddied her career plans. Fond memories of cooking with her grandmother led her to apply to the prestigious French Culinary Institute (now known as the International Culinary Center), developing a new outlet for her creativity.
Following a stint as Executive Chef at Mood Food that included a spot on New York Magazine’s Top 10 list, Michelle worked in event planning before branching out on her own with Innovative Events, a luxury event and catering business in Manhattan and Florida. The Latham native returned to the Capital District and became a Founding Director of the Albany Chefs’ Food & Wine Festival: Wine & Dine for the Arts in 2009. Since 2010, Chef MHAT has provided public relations and brand management for the hospitality industry through M.H.A. Innovations and she has returned to the kitchen as a private chef. She took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to speak with us ahead of catering the November 7th ACE Mixer at the Bull Moose Club in Albany.
Does your dance background benefit you in your hospitality/cooking career?
I think yes – 1000%. In the kitchen it doesn’t bother me to work until 4:00 AM to get something right. It’s the foundation of discipline – everything matters, you can’t cut any corners. It has to be that way; the French Culinary Institute was very exacting and after the Russian Conservatory experience it was a natural fit. Mentally it prepares you for success not only in a creative field but really any endeavor.
How did the change from Executive Chef to Brand Management come about?
When working as a chef in NY it was really intense – I was working 100 hour weeks and loving what I did. I was approached about planning events and I had an interest in ‘front of the house’ (dining area) vs. ‘back of the house’ (kitchen). I wanted to learn and thought later on it would be good to know both sides. I left my position as chef and started planning events but eventually realized I wanted to do that on my own. I was open for about 9 months prior to 9/11 and after that it was very difficult as events in the city were cancelled. I relocated to Florida and did well there but wanted to come home. It was just a curiosity that led to the change but I found I could do both aspects well. Everything I’ve done has been a natural progression.
What is the state of the Capital District Food Scene?
I love what people are doing here – years ago it wasn’t like this. It drives me crazy when certain organizations skip our area when handing out awards. There’s NYC, Boston, Montreal within a short drive but we have chefs here who are doing great things and have been for years. I think of Chef AJ Richards up at [forged] in Hudson Falls and what he is doing there is spectacular. He got our first Rising Star perfect score; it blew my mind with the quality and innovation – this jewel is sitting right here. What Hamlet & Ghost in Saratoga Springs is doing with craft cocktails is crazy; you just have to look.
I see a lot of chefs here who know who their purveyors are and where their food is coming from – know your farmer, know your suppliers. There’s so much great stuff going on here; the Food & Wine Festival is anyone’s chance to explore the scene with so many chefs and restaurants in one spot.
What someone should know before considering a cooking career?
Culinary schools are becoming much more competitive due to their popularity, but you can reach out and talk to those in the field. All the chefs I work with are so generous with their knowledge and mentor many people; it is part of the DNA of a chef – we feed people. It’s not about ego but it’s about giving and sharing of yourself. Reach out to a chef you’ve heard great things about, they will generously share their knowledge and experiences.