Orange County Partnership - News

Orange County receives the economic development opportunity it’s been waiting for

By Maureen Halahan

Sometimes called the crossroads of the northeast, Orange County is a prime location for emerging industries. As the president and CEO of the Orange County Partnership, I have seen a seemingly endless stream of development proposals over the years. Community Offshore Wind’s proposal for a steel manufacturing facility in Orange County has the potential to provide transformational economic growth, while positioning the Hudson Valley as a powerhouse in the clean energy economy.

The Orange County Partnership reported this year that clean energy-related industries would be our target for new investment opportunities. Not only is transitioning the state to renewable energy a top priority for Gov. Kathy Hochul, but the transition will also bring with it hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs. These jobs should come to Orange County, where the infrastructure and job training resources already exist, and economic stimulation is needed.

With community at the center of Community Offshore Wind’s recent bid submission to NYSERDA’s offshore wind solicitation, it’s no surprise that one of the most significant benefits of their proposal is the revitalization of Orange County’s economic vibrancy. Community Offshore Wind, if selected, has pledged to build its steel manufacturing and processing facilities in Orange County, recognizing the incredible opportunity that exists to bring jobs and economic stimulation to an area that welcomes smart, strategic development.

The proposed steel manufacturing facilities will create good-paying, skilled jobs in the Town of New Windsor and the City of Newburgh, which will lead to numerous community benefits including support for small businesses, main street activity and new tax ratables. Simply put, when workers have stable jobs, their quality of life — and their spending — increases, boosting the entire region’s economy.

State leadership and NYSERDA have a real opportunity to catalyze meaningful economic and community growth in Orange County and the Hudson Valley, while enhancing the quality of life for those who live here. In considering a winner for the offshore wind bid solicitation, community impact should not be overlooked.

Community Offshore Wind’s bid includes a holistic approach to ensuring every community member is able to participate in the future offshore wind industry, including childcare programs for employees and those undergoing training. This seemingly small, yet extremely powerful, family-friendly policy will provide everyone in the region with the support they need to transition to offshore wind jobs. This type of support is a game changing contribution to the overall well-being of families in Orange County and will equip residents with higher wages and the resources necessary to prosper.

The company’s investment would be an important step toward equity in Orange County and throughout the energy industry. Median household income in Newburgh is $47,000, with over 50% of households making less than $50,000. As the renewable energy industry expands in New York, communities that stand to benefit the most from new jobs and resources should receive these benefits. If we want the clean energy transition to have a lasting generational impact, we must prioritize disadvantaged communities.

Community Offshore Wind is setting a strong example for other employers and industries to follow suit. If the state awards contracts to companies that pledge to bring economic benefits back to the communities that need it most, we will see a wide-ranging positive impact across New York. Families will have access to good-paying jobs in an emerging industry, they will have the resources to train for these jobs, and they will have higher incomes to boost local economies. Community Offshore Wind’s proposal is a win-win for Orange County.

Maureen Halahan is president and CEO of the Orange County Partnership.