The Ulster County Planning Board has a responsibility under the Charter effective January 1, 2009, to act as a liaison between County agencies and nonprofit bodies involved in economic and community development for which the County provides funding. In addition, with the adoption of the county-wide economic development plan, Ulster Tomorrow, as part of the County’s Comprehensive Plan, the connection between planning and economic development is ever more salient.
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Portal site designed to be your one-stop place for business development in Ulster County. Contains direct links to Financing, Small Business Planning, Workforce information, and site selection sources all in one place.
Doing Business With Ulster County
Prior to 2009, businesses that wanted to do business with Ulster County had to register with the Hudson Valley Municipal Purchasing Group. Indeed, you could not even see the items being bid upon without paying a fee and registering. Ulster County has overhauled the way it presents information on items being purchased. Potential purchases are listed on the County’s own website so that vendors can determine whether there is any reason for them to register with the bidding service. If Ulster County buys what they sell, they should register. In addition, the County Executive had directed all county departments to buy locally wherever and whenever possible so long as procurement laws are cosmplied with. This includes an effort to provide department with lists of professional services vendors located inside of Ulster County where relevant. Furthermore, UC undertook an educational campaign, meeting with chambers of commerce and business associations around the state to educate businesses on how to do business with Ulster County.
Access to Capital - Credit for Success
Beginning in 2008, a financial panic gripped the nation that limited
small businesses access to capital. Acting upon real case examples of once strong businesses in Ulster County who found their lines of credit cut or business loan applications denied, the County Executive invited all the local banks and credit unions that do business in Ulster County together to address the problem. The result was the Credit for Success Program of the Ulster County Bank Consortium. The Consortium is a team approach of 8 banks and the New York Business Development Corporation whch will share the risk on loans for borrowers that fall just below traditional lending guidelines. The Credit for Success Programs makes loans between $25,000 and $150,000 to businesses that meet program requirements which include working with the Small Business Development Center. As of the close of the year, the program had already garnered serious interest from a dozen Ulster County businesses.
Ulster County recognizes that broadband is the backbone of the modern economy. The County has undertaken an extensive effort to map the existing broadband access in Ulster County. Staff obtained service area maps from Time Warner Cable Access, shared them with Town Supervisors who worked with local residents and cable access committees to identify those areas without broadband service. Staff then worked with Ulster County Information Services GIS team to create a GIS map of broadband. Ulster County applied for broadband stimulus funding in 2009 for wireless internet. In addition, Ulster County put in an application for Google Fiber for Communities and expects to hear by year end.
Main Streets Program The Ulster County Main Streets Program was initiated by UCPB in 2007 as a means of providing technical assistance to communities to ensure the vitality of our Main Streets as part of an overall economic development and quality of life strategy. In the past 2 years, the planning staff has worked with many stakeholders in communities throughout the county beginning the discussion on the importance of their Main Streets and to plan, fund, and implement improvements. Partnering with the Rural Ulster Preservation Company (RUPCO) on this approach, Ulster County has been awarded more New York State Main Street Grants than any other county in the state. These grants are being leveraged with other investments in our communities including transportation, housing, and infrastructure improvements. For more information, contact our office.
Shovel Ready Site Development
Ulster County Planning Board staff worked extensively on two major shovel ready development projects throughout 2009: Tech City and Winston Farm. Tech City has undertaken the preparation of a new master plan for the property and the Town of Ulster is reviewing an application for a Generic Environmental Impact Statement for the property. Ulster County Planning Board staff has participated with the Town of Saugerties in an evaluation of the suitability and concept planning for development of the 800 acre Winston Farm property in the Town of Saugerties. The result of the Winston Farm project is that the property owners and economic development agencies are now seeking funding to conduct Generic Environmental Impact Statement work for that property.
Ulster County Alive
In 2008, Ulster County released a request for proposals seeking marketing and website services to enhance its tourism brand. Ulster County Planning Board staff worked with the marketing consultant and the Tourism Department to ensure the transition to a new website and tourism brand www.ulstercountyalive.com that was timed to launch simultaneously with the opening of the Walkway over the Hudson. In addition, staff assisted the Tourism Department and marketing consultant to ensure the success of an advertising campaign on the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Specifically, Ulster County ads ran on the 42nd Street Shuttle for three months at the close of the year. Furthermore, portions of this ad campaign were used by the Development Corporation in a taxi cab advertising campaign for a week in the mid-town region of Manhattan. Efforts to promote and expand www.ulstercountyalive.com will continue throughout 2010.
Retention of Existing Jobs
Staff worked with the Ulster County Development Corporation’s Business Development Team to craft a business retention plan for Development Corporation staff. The retention plan identified and prioritized strategic employers for retention calls by the Development Corporation. In addition, Planning Department staff worked on problem-solving for multiple Ulster County businesses to retain jobs in the community. The most visible of these was the retention of Gillette Creamery, an Ellenville ice cream distribution business with lucrative incentives being offered by the State of Vermont. Ulster County was able to obtain a $600,000 grant from NYS Empire State Development matched to an Ulster County Revolving Loan fund loan as well as private capital to retain the company within Ulster County.