Any business that makes goods know their products are only as good as their ingredients.
Whether processing food or assembling electronics, manufacturers need quality raw materials to drive success. This includes the energy to power plants, workforce to operate machinery and infrastructure to deliver finished products to the end users.
Expanding and relocating businesses require these critical elements to grow. They might be surprised to find an exceptional combination of quality and cost effectiveness in the rural areas of upstate New York.
Montgomery County, located near Albany and New York’s Capital Region, benefits from the state’s discounted electricity, plentiful water and reliable access to more than half of U.S. and Canadian consumers. It also boasts an above-average labor pool that is capable of contributing to a variety of enterprises and superior agriculture that feeds a growing food industry.
These are the raw materials of business success that give oft-overlooked places like rural Montgomery County a great deal of hidden value.
New York State Has Inexpensive Energy
At 5.84 cents per kilowatt hour, New York’s industrial power is 15 percent less than the national average and 35 percent lower than electric rates in other Mid-Atlantic states, according to the U.S. Energy Information administration.
The ReCharge NY initiative powers economic development with reduced-cost electricity provided by the New York Power Authority (NYPA). NYPA offers discounted hydro- and third-party power to large businesses, small organizations and nonprofits for job retention, expansion and new enterprise.
In the Mohawk Valley region, which includes Montgomery County, 55 primarily manufacturing businesses saved about $5 million in 2014 alone, according to a report filed by the Economic Development Power Allocation Board and NYPA.
Upstate New York Water Is Pristine and Plentiful
Fueled by the Finger Lakes, Great Lakes and Niagara Falls watersheds, New York boasts some of the country’s best household, business and industrial water sources. The state stewards this valuable raw material as well, laying claim to the most comprehensive watershed program in the U.S.
“New York is a water-rich state,” Cornell University’s Sorell Negro and Keith S. Porter noted in a recent study. “New York enjoys abundant water … with high-quality surface and ground water resources.”
Those resources trickle into every section of the state, including rural areas like Montgomery County. In addition, a history of industry there helped develop a wastewater infrastructure capable of taking on the needs of major manufacturers.
Montgomery County’s Workforce Is Skilled and Strong
The Montgomery County workforce ranks well above average in stability, productivity and loyalty, while turnover is well below average.
Businesses can also connect with talent in this higher education-rich region. More than 20 colleges and universities in this commuter friendly area offer great recruiting opportunities.
In fact, the local community college works directly with Albany and Mohawk Valley employers to develop a curriculum specific to their needs. The Fulton Montgomery Community College DACUM program has proved particularly successful in creating a workforce for the emerging rural tech job market.
Upstate New York offers a number of labor advantages beyond skill, particularly in the areas of manufacturing and supply chain management.
The New York State Thruway Is an Essential Connection
The Thruway (I-90), which cuts through the heart of New York and Montgomery County, affords unparalleled access to more than half of the U.S. and Canadian populations, including the New York City, Boston and Montreal markets.
A trio of New York State Thruway exits links Montgomery County businesses to all the major traffic corridors of the Northeast. CSX rail service and the nearby Albany International Airport enhance the county’s transportation and shipping options.
Rural sourcing and reshoring American business places a high priority on proximity to major markets, especially when it comes to food production.
Montgomery County Has the Agriculture Food Processors Crave
Agriculture and manufacturing have always complemented each other in upstate New York’s rural communities.
In places like Montgomery County, the ag sector saw jobs grow by 60 percent from 2000 to 2015. While manufacturing followed trends across the U.S. by falling 28 percent over that same period, the industry still employs an above-average 21 percent in Montgomery County, according to New York Department of Labor statistics.
Of six comparable rural communities across the U.S., only two shared long-term growth potential in agriculture and manufacturing with Montgomery County, according to an analysis by North Star Destination Strategies. Food processing was also pegged as a top area of growth in the Mohawk Valley by the New York Workforce Development Board in a recent report.
Montgomery County’s 100-year relationship with Beech-Nut illustrates the strength of this combination.
The Raw Materials of Business Success
The natural resources needed by modern manufacturers and businesses in general now extend from energy and water to manpower and infrastructure.