SEEC, Cobleskill aim at Route 7 corridor
By Patsy Nicosia
With help from SEEC and Lamont Engineers, Cobleskill is turning a laser focus on the Route 7/I-88 corridor, determined to attract manufacturing or jobs to a shovel-ready site.
It’s a strategy that could pay off all along the Route 7/I-88 corridor, said SEEC Executive Director Julie Pacatte.
But it means being aggressive.
“What we’re hearing is that it’s no longer about incentives” like PILOTs, Ms. Pacatte said Monday after she and Lamont’s Brendon Becker updated Supervisor Leo McAllister and councilmen on two planning grants the Town of Cobleskill has received.
“It’s a lot of pre-gaming,” Ms. Pacatte said.
The first grant is $25,000 from Empire State Development that the town received in 2019 to ID what’s turned out to be about a half dozen potential development sites and do a little marketing, Mr. Becker said.
Next will be soil borings and some preliminary layouts for water and sewer hookups.
That work goes hand-in-hand with the Mohawk Valley Economic Development District grant through the CARES Act that the town received—matched by National Grid—for $50,000 to hire a consultant who’ll do similar but more in-depth work all along the corridor, from Richmondville to Schoharie, Ms. Pacatte said.
Shovel-ready no longer means ‘We have 99 acres and there’s utilities up the road,” she said. “It means site concepts, what size building will fit, what people could work there.
“We know industrial development is on fire right now,” she said; here, that could mean food processing or distribution—the first nearly a perfect fit, the second tailored to Schoharie County.
“Montgomery County is tapped out when it comes it flat land close to the highway,” she said.
“When it comes to shovel-ready, we’re not competitive. The MVEDD grant will tell us how to get there.”
One big challenge, Mr. Becker said, will be electricity; the local power grid is insufficient for what industrial typically requires and would require significant upgrades.
All of this will require local investment—and Mr. McAllister said they’re ready.
“We’ve been very frugal with our money and we’ve built up a good fund balance,” he said.
“You don’t spend fund balance on everyday needs, but once in a lifetime opportunities. This could be it.”
The MVEDD grant requires the planning process to be wrapped up by June 2022 and Ms. Pacatte said she expects results before then.
“I think you’ll have a strategic investment opportunity by the end of the year,” she said.