By CAROLINE MURRAY
Fulton and Montgomery counties have gained national recognition on their efforts to increase economic development and seize business opportunities -- together.
The National Association of Counties publication County News published an article June 2 recognizing both municipalities for their proposed regional business park in the town of Mohawk, as well as Fulton-Montgomery Community College's nanotechnology program.
"One of the reasons why we included this article about Fulton and Montgomery counties is because it is a wonderful example of how counties are being innovative in economic development work," spokesman Brian Namey said.
Although neither Fulton nor Montgomery counties are members of the association, Namey said the two municipalities exemplify how to work together to benefit each other, and membership counties could learn from their progress.
"This article represents a specific example how counties are leading the way in strengthening local economies," Namey said.
Namey said the two counties are in the perfect location to foster a growing nanotechnology industry.
Both counties are located close to the microchip processor GlobalFoundries in Malta, the College Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany, and are only a drive away from New York City and Boston.
Both Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort and Fulton County Administrator Jon Stead agreed that it was an honor to be recognized outside of the Mohawk Valley region.
"Many times, people that live in our community have a negative perception of our community ... and I think when you really look at it there is tremendous opportunity in Fulton and Montgomery counties, and if folks on a national level see it we need to see it locally," Ossenfort said.
Ossenfort said location is one of the counties' greatest assets, and it is a matter of being prepared for opportunities that come their way.
Currently, Ossenfort said the county is working on creating small and large shovel-ready sites in the town of Florida. Also, the county is currently working with Fulton County to negotiate a proposed regional business park in the town of Mohawk and city of Johnstown.
The park could draw in nanochip manufacturers as well as other large industries.
"These are all potential opportunities," Ossenfort said.
Ossenfort said the state-imposed tax cap and the 2008 recession forced counties to think outside the box, and he would like to think both counties are setting a trend by working collaboratively.
"Really, it is nice to have interest from a national organization," Ossenfort said.
Fulton County Administrator Jon Stead said he was excited to receive recognition in a publication that is distributed nationally.
Stead believes the entire region is the future of modern technology. He said officials in both Fulton and Montgomery counties are trying to push economic development in the next three to five years.
Stead said it is their hope to get in on a piece of the growth that is taking place in the Capital District.
"The National Association of Counties is kind of following this area now, with the chip fabrication both in Malta, and some of the new things going on in SUNY IT and Utica area -- this region has kind of a future of modern technology," Stead said. "It is interesting to see them following that."
The National Association of Counties is located in Washington, D.C. Namey said it is a full-service organization for county members, providing them with a voice on Capital Hill, and examples of best policy practices, and it conducts research and analyses.
Namey said County News is the association's flagship publication. He said roughly 80 percent of the country's 3,069 counties are affiliates of the organization.