The Town of Glenville hopes new businesses will come and be a part of its growth. At least, that’s the gist of a burgeoning plan to attract new businesses unveiled at a Town Board meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
Town officials are hoping PC Public Affairs will come up with a winning marketing strategy for the town. The firm was contracted to the tune of $12,000 in April. Andre Claridge, founder and managing partner of the firm, laid out plans, highlighted the town’s challenges and the advantages to growing its commercial corridor, with an approach for the town to implement suggestions amid tight fiscal constraints.
“This is a community orientated area,” Claridge said, “one that respects the community and all it has to offer, but also one that is very pro-business and open to growth.”
Claridge said the firm was interested in the project because one of its focus areas is dealing with public sector messaging. Claridge previously was a speechwriter and staffer for Gov. George Pataki and the firm’s director of media relations, Jason Keller, worked on the “I Love NY” campaign.
“Although we had a limited budget we actually took on this project because it meant something to us, so we spent a great deal of time in the community to get a sense of what Glenville is all about,” Claridge said.
After reaching out to community stakeholders, the firm drafted an assessment and reviewed it with the town’s Small Business and Economic Development Committee. The committee provided input to help craft the town’s message, which includes the slogan “The Town of Glenville is growing … Come be a part of it.”
Claridge said it is important the town tell its story to prospective businesses and investors. Identifying Glenville’s strengths and weaknesses over its “tremendous regional competition,” such as booming commercial sector in Colonie and Clifton Park, is the first step. He also showed how to spin possible downsides as positive attributes.
Many people might believe Glenville’s location isn’t ideal, for example, but he stressed it is centrally located.
“A lot of folks think Glenville is out of the way, but they don’t realize if you really live in Glenville you have everything right here and whatever you don’t have here is just 30 minutes away,” Claridge said.
Claridge said the town is approaching economic development in the right way through effective town leadership creating a more welcoming environment for business. A new initiative recently proposed by Town Supervisor Christopher Koetzle is having a “one-pass promise” for developers going through town approvals for projects.
Claridge said while the town doesn’t have one central commercial corridor there are five hubs throughout the town, including the town center, Schenectady County Airport, Freeman’s Bridge Road, Glenville Business & Technology Park and Route 5 in the Village of Scotia.
“Glenville will be the type of community that people want to sit in a coffee shop on Saturday afternoon, and without a real sort of focused town center it is hard to create those types of atmospheres,” Claridge said. “You guys have to work exceptionally hard to build that center so that growth can sort of come from that.”
Marketing the town on a tight budget requires smart approaches, he said, such as using social media effectively and possibly creating a simple website solely focusing on a pro-business message.
“You have to keep your budget in mind, so if you have limited funds you have to be creative,” Claridge said.
Glenville’s drive for economic development is primarily focused on lessening the tax burden on residents, which is generally greater than that of surrounding municipalities.
Town officials have previously said residents contribute roughly 80 percent of property taxes and commercial 15 percent. Comparatively, Rotterdam and Niskayuna residents bear only around 60 percent of the tax burdens in those towns, with Clifton Park residents chipping in 50 percent.
Councilwoman Gina Wierzbowski said it’s important for town officials to change people’s perception of the town and highlight positive attributes.
“We are close to everything and it is a great place to live and raise a family,” Wierzbowski said.