The CEO Roundtable plays a vital role in holding counties and municipalities accountable

Vision artBuilding a vital future for our region takes all hands on deck. That’s why, in 2011, small but vital group of Montgomery and Fulton County business leaders formed The CEO Roundtable. Their vision? To create a business-friendly climate that would help the region retain existing businesses and attract new ones.

Today the CEO Roundtable members continue to promote the vision they created in their  2011 Regional Business Plan:

“The Fulton-Montgomery County Region is a progressive community providing a friendly climate for business growth and retention, a variety of entertainment venues for social gathering, an educated and trained workforce, and a diverse housing stock to meet the needs of the different lifestyles of its residents.”

Guided today by core members Dustin Swanger, president of Fulton Montgomery Community College,; Mike Reese, president of Fulton County Center for Regional Growth; Ken Rose, director of the Montgomery County Business Development Center; Jim Mraz, Fulton County planning director; Mark Kilmer, CEO of the Fulton-Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce; and Pat Michel, district superintendent of HFM BOCES; the group continues to advance the work of 6 primary goals established in that plan.

1. Educate and train the region’s students for a 21st century workforce.

Area schools have begun implementing the new common core standards to better prepare students for college and careers. BOCES is collaborating with area districts on curriculum and to ensure access to learning opportunities. Both a technology-focused high school and Apprentice Program are underway. Technology-enabled faculty-sharing is in development among school districts. BOCES and the FM Chamber sponsored a Career Fair for eighth-grade students. And several districts are regionalizing some operations (transportation, food service, etc.) to control costs.

Additionally, as reported here in October, Fulton Montgomery Community College (FMCC) has invested heavily in technology on-campus (a new clean-room and automated manufacturing lab, high-tech patient simulators, new computers, iPads and software), launched new degree programs, and modified several programs to reflect the skills needed by area business and industry.

2. Develop large and small shovel-ready sites. Fulton County has been working with New York State to transfer ownership of Tryon Park to the Fulton County IDA, which will provide a new business and industry park, complete with infrastructure, ready for development. Montgomery County has been working to expand the Florida Park Extension in preparation for new potential industries.

3. Market the region. Both counties have been developing marketing outreach efforts singly and together. A joint effort brought site selector Michael Mullis to the region in early September to highlight the number of sites available in our region and to promote the region’s business strengths:

  • Location (proximity to major throughways and easy access to markets throughout the Northeast)
  • Available workforce
  • Affordable land
  • Year-round recreational activities
  • Low cost of living

4. Improve the region’s quality of life. Another important focus is revitalizing our downtowns. To that end, the CEO Roundtable has hosted two symposia for government and business leaders from Amsterdam, Gloversville, and Johnstown to learn, brainstorm, and begin efforts to enhance our cities.

5. Extend water, sewer, utilities, and broadband service. The CEO Roundtable strongly advocates Fulton County’s exploration of a county-wide water and sewer system, which will make the county much more attractive to new and growing businesses.

6. Lower local property tax burden in the region. Our local counties and school districts have been doing all they can to control spending without crippling services. But a region can only shrink to success for so long. The only true way to control the property tax burden is to grow the base so that costs can be spread among more residents, businesses, and industries. That is why the entire Regional Business Development Plan is focused on growth.

Concludes Dustin Swanger, a founding member of The CEO Roundtable, “The CEO Roundtable, along with others in our community, has been working hard to implement the Regional Business Development Plan. We are focused on improving our region and making it a better place to live, work, and play.”

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