• Meghan Taylor, Mid-Hudson Regional Director of Empire State Development

Officials Tout Orange County’s Positive Economic Signs

By Daniel Axelrod
Times Herald-Record 
  
TOWN OF WALLKILL – Orange County’s economy is healthy, and collaboration between state and local leaders, businesses and the Orange County Partnership is a big reason why. That was the message Wednesday from Meghan Taylor, Mid-Hudson Regional Director of Empire State Development, at the Orange County Partnership’s investor breakfast at the West Hills Country Club.


Taylor’s state agency works with 10 Regional Economic Development Councils created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to promote economic growth. The Partnership is a Goshen nonprofit that acts as the county’s de facto attractor of development. More than 400 local business and political leaders listened to Taylor tout the estimated 13,000 jobs created in Orange County, a 13 percent rise, between 2010 and 2016, and the county’s 4.6 percent August unemployment rate. Tourism has been a bright spot for the county, she said, generating $474 million in 2016.


“Orange County is open for business,” Taylor said. “It’s also open for development, tourism and to raise a family. The exciting momentum is reflected in Orange County’s vital signs, from extremely low unemployment to job growth.” Taylor added that, since 2011, the state has dispensed $52 million in economic development funding to 91 Orange County projects, spurring $459 million in private investment.

The 33-year-old Campbell Hall native, who served as the Orange County Partnership’s Director of  Business Attraction from 2010 to 2013, spoke to heavy applause as she and the breakfast’s attendees celebrated the county’s positive economic trends. Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus, who spoke just before Taylor, also highlighted the county’s positive economic signs, including:

— sales tax revenue increasing by $9.5 million since 2014

— hotel/motel taxes rising 18 percent over the past three years

— total employment climbing to 174,400 Orange County residents this year compared with 168,500 in 2014, which has pushed unemployment below 5 percent from 6.4 percent

— and temporary assistance cases plummeting 18 percent, while food stamp use fell 12 percent in recent years.


“People can tell you how great things are, but there are third-party validators, and those are all the construction projects you see underway,” Neuhaus said. Since 2015, more than 30 companies have begun projects to build, expand or relocate in Orange County, generating capital investment of $1.25 billion and creating 1,500 jobs, according to the partnership. “Orange County is attractive because our properties and work force are still more affordable than other areas, including points south like New Jersey,” said Maureen Halahan, president and CEO of the Orange County Partnership and a voting member of the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council.