(6/22/16 – The Daily Gazette) Montgomery County’s economic development team has launched a website that highlights job opportunities within the county, in an attempt to boost the county’s economy and burnish its image as a business location.
The site — MontgomeryCountyWorks.org — is a product of the Montgomery County Business Development Center, and is designed to connect people living in and around Montgomery County with jobs there, but also to attract nonresidents to work there.
Michele Marzullo, economic development program assistant at the BDC, said for many people in the suburban Capital Region, a commute to Montgomery County might not take any longer than driving to downtown Albany, and would be a lot less stressful.
Also, she added, there are plenty of job openings in Montgomery County, not all of them involving the traditional blue-collar work stereotypically associated with the area.
“There are a lot of openings, and I think that’s why we want to reach out to people in the area,” Marzulllo said.
As of Tuesday, the website offered links to two dozen local employers or companies with a local presence. Clicking through brings job hunters right to the websites of these firms. Some list jobs they are looking to fill, others only provide employment applications. These jobs range from technician positions at Beech-Nut to teacher aides in the Greater Amsterdam School District to sales staff at Alpin Haus to everything from cook to physician at St. Mary’s Healthcare, the county’s largest employer.
Another feature on MontgomeryCountyWorks.org is a section of advice for searching, finding and interviewing for a new job.
Marzulllo said the effort to attract workers to Montgomery County goes along with the effort to attract employers. The most important selling point for recruiting new businesses to an area is physical infrastructure, she said — roads, water and sewer service, utilities. But the workforce also is important — once the company sets up here, it needs people to work for it.
“Any business that we want to invest in the county, they’re always going to be looking for employees,” she said.
By creating the website, Montgomery County’s economic development team was trying also to counter the image of the county as a place with high unemployment and limited employment opportunities beyond physically active blue-collar jobs. Neither of these images is entirely accurate.
A look at MontgomeryCountyWorks.org does reveal blue-collar work but also shows a range of other positions that need to be filled.
Montgomery County’s jobless rate was reported at 5.1 percent Tuesday by the state Department of Labor. This was significantly higher than its neighbors to the east (Saratoga County, 3.4 percent, and Schenectady County, 4 percent) but similar to other nearby counties — Fulton (5.2 percent), Herkimer (4.7 percent) and Schoharie (4.8 percent).
The BDC is considering targeted digital advertising and television commercials to press its campaign. For the latter effort, it may shoot a driver’s point-of-view video demonstrating the differences between a commute to Amsterdam and a commute to Albany.
The BDC surveyed 24 employers as it was creating the website and found 60 percent were seeking workers — 225 new employees with varying levels of experience, training and education for a variety of jobs on a wide-ranging pay scale, a third of them paying more than $50,000 a year. The manufacturing, service and retail sectors accounted for the majority of these jobs.
“There are a number of long-term, attractive career opportunities available here in Montgomery County. Connecting those looking for a job with a potential career path is an important part of workforce development,” Montgomery County Executive Matthew L. Ossenfort said in a statement.
The BDC leads economic development in Montgomery County, offering financial incentives and a wide variety of assistance that covers everything from planning to training. It collaborates with the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development and Planning as well as the county Industrial Development Agency and Capital Resource Corp. to offer tax-exempt bonds with low interest rates.