Broome County, New York, enjoys a central Northeastern location in the state’s Southern Tier, just above the Pennsylvania border. Home to the City of Binghamton and a handful of quaint villages, Broome County sits at the convergence of Interstate 81, Interstate 88, and Interstate 86…
“We also have access to freight rail service and to good air connections through our airport,” says Stacey Duncan, Deputy Director of Community and Economic Development for The Agency, which governs the Broome County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and the Broome County Local Development Corporation (LDC). “Our location gives us a strong advantage for business development. We are within half a day’s drive to every major city in the Northeast.”
Broome County’s location and business friendly environment have attracted a variety of industries over the years. “We have a very diverse industry base that other communities our size usually don’t have. We have all types of industry and we have solid employers that really commit and give back to the community.”
Technology is one of the county’s strongest industries. “Broome County has a very strong foundation of high tech and innovative companies,” Ms. Duncan says, while manufacturing is still a major sector. IBM, BAE Systems, L-3 Communications, Frito-Lay, and Endicott Interconnect Technologies are all located in Broome County, while Lockheed Martin and Raymond Corporation are located just over the border of neighboring counties. In addition, Binghamton is home to the very first Dick’s Sporting Goods store. “The original Dick’s Sporting Goods store is still here in Binghamton – and they have now grown into a multibillion dollar corporation.”
Healthcare is another key industry in Broome County. “We have major hospitals here that continue to invest in the community and continue to invest in their own infrastructure,” says Kevin, McLaughlin, Executive Director of The Agency. Education is also foundational to Broome County’s economy. The community is home to Binghamton University, one of four University Centers in the State University of New York (SUNY) system.
Broome County’s mix of healthcare, high tech and manufacturing operations – in addition to a thriving local university – ensures that the community is full of talent. “We maintain a highly skilled and highly educated workforce, especially in the areas of engineering and science,” says Ms. Duncan.
Broome County boasts a quality of life to match its business opportunities. “Being a lifelong resident here, it was an easy choice to stay in Broome County,” Ms. Duncan remarks. “You really have the ideal work/life balance here. My commute time is less than fifteen minutes.” This quick and easy commute also applies to people who travel to neighboring counties for work. “You can get to work easily,” Mr. McLaughlin points out. “Someone who lives in Tioga County, which is maybe 15 miles away, literally can get to work in 15 minutes. That is not the case in any of the major metropolitan areas.”
This small town convenience comes with big city amenities. “We are fortunate to have amenities that communities of our size typically don’t have,” says Ms. Duncan. “We house a world class opera and philharmonic and Broadway level performances at our local theatres. We have two professional sports teams.” Broome County is home to the Binghamton Senators hockey team, a minor league affiliate of the Ottawa Senators, as well as the minor league baseball team Binghamton Mets, a Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets.
Well known for its top-notch golf courses, Broome County is also the site of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open, a PGA Champions Tour event. “We have a lot of tourists that come into Broome County just because of the golf – and not just because of the Senior PGA event, but for a number of quality golf courses,” says Mr. McLaughlin. These courses bring in a significant number of international tourists. “We have golf packages that attract a lot of people from Canada.”
Broome County’s many amenities are set within a stunning natural backdrop of rolling hills and green valleys crisscrossed with plenty of hiking and biking trails. Small, family owned farms will soon supply locally grown produce to the county’s year round farmer’s market, currently under construction. “It is really an ideal place to start or expand your company and to raise a family,” Ms. Duncan points out. “It offers rewarding opportunities both professionally and personally,” and these opportunities continue to attract new residents and businesses. “It’s a very positive time for Broome County.”
Indeed, the entire community is enjoying a renewal, and Binghamton University is leading the way. “Binghamton University has really been a catalyst to getting a lot of new energy and enthusiasm into our community,” Ms. Duncan remarks. Mr. McLaughlin adds, “Binghamton University is playing a huge role in the revitalization of Binghamton and Broome County in general.”
The university is enjoying substantial growth, both in the number of students and in facility expansions. “The City of Binghamton is slowly transforming itself into a college town,” says Mr. McLaughlin. “That is because of the investment that the university has made and that private developers have made in taking some of our large vacant commercial structures and turning them into mixed-use commercial developments for student housing [and other facilities] that support the university. “It has really changed the face of downtown Binghamton and we are seeing the same thing happening in Johnson City, where the new pharmaceutical school is going to go.” Scheduled for completion in early 2018, the $70 million development involves the renovation of a dilapidated manufacturing facility. More renovations are planned to transform derelict factory space into a nursing school and university workforce housing.
In addition, the University of Binghamton is creating a new, high-tech incubator in partnership with The Agency. Located in the heart of downtown Binghamton, the $19 million, 35,000-square-foot Southern Tier High Technology Incubator will include 12 suites for high-technology startups, 18 laboratories, and shared workspace. “We are seeing the creative economy growing,” Ms. Duncan remarks. “We have a lot of young professionals who are starting businesses. The entrepreneurial community is growing and very enthusiastic about the future of Broome County.”
The Agency’s small business lending program also helps new and expanding businesses gain a foothold. “We have leveraged over $5 million in small business investment with about $1 million in loans over the last two years,” says Mr. McLaughlin. “That will help create and retain over 600 jobs in Broome County.” Ms. Duncan adds, “We have a very strong and active small business lending program with three different loan pools that we can work with to help existing businesses grow and expand. We definitely feel that one of our priorities is to expand existing businesses. If we can expand 100 companies by five to ten jobs each, then we are really sustaining the local economy.”
Broome County businesses are also getting a boost from the Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI), a program focused on systematically revitalizing the economy of Upstate New York. New York State chose the Southern Tier, which includes Broome County, as a “Best Plan Awardee” for its compelling vision. As a winner, the region will receive a total of $500 million in state funds over the next five years to pursue high impact, transformational projects. “We will be identifying major projects in the Broome County area and moving them forward through the process for state funding,” Mr. McLaughlin explains.
Leading corporations are taking notice of Broome County’s revitalization efforts. “We are getting more and more interest from major companies.” For instance, global marketing solutions company Modern Marketing Concepts is buying a 426,000 square foot facility in Broome County with plans to renovate it into a leading edge workspace. “They really want to develop the building into a Google-like campus that will attract the Millennial workforce,” Mr. McLaughlin explains. “Their goal is to create 600 jobs.”
Broome County’s business climate is ideal for big corporations as well as more humble mom and pop ventures, and the community values both equally. “We have had some big successes with Modern Marketing Concepts, but our meat and potatoes is really helping our small businesses that continue to grow and expand in Broome County,” Mr. McLaughlin says.
These small businesses are thriving throughout the county as the local economy continues to gain strength. “The City of Binghamton is going through a renaissance of sorts,” Mr. McLaughlin reports. “Storefronts are filling up. We have a lot of new restaurants and a great foodie town.” The revitalization shows no sign of slowing down. The Agency itself will be an active participant in Broome County’s positive energy, with plans to construct a state-of-the-art one-stop economic development center on the campus of SUNY Broome Community College. In addition to offices for The Agency, the facility will house a number of economic and business development partners. “This [facility] will be a tremendous resource for businesses looking to expand or for investors looking to come to Broome County. “Being able to infuse new investment into the community has really brought some new optimism. It is an exciting time to be here.”
To learn more about The Agency and Broome County, NY, go to http://theagency-ny.com.