Orange County Partnership - News

  • Steve Gross, Director of Economic Development - County of Orange
  • Maureen Halahan, President & CEO of the Orange County Partnership moderating the Orange County Economic Summit
  • Dr. Kristine Young, President of SUNY Orange

Orange County Hosts Highly Successful First Economic Summit

By John Jordan


The first Orange County Economic Summit brought together key stakeholders, politicians, policy makers, economic development officials and business leaders who discussed a wide range of topics that are all critical to the county’s future growth.


The theme of the 2022 Orange County Economic Summit held on Sept. 30 at SUNY Orange in Middletown was “Positive Growth and Infrastructure: Progress Today and Planning Tomorrow.” The summit was the brain child and was organized by Orange County Director of Economic Development Steven M. Gross.


The four economic development panels included: Water, Wastewater and Commercial Development; Understanding Economic Incentives; Utilities, Energy and Digital Infrastructure and Transportation Equals Business and Commerce. All four were highly informative and offered attendees the latest information and perspective on these key issues.


SUNY Orange President Dr. Kristine Young hosted the event and discussed her role as co-chair of the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council and also touted the college’s recent designation as an education partner for Amazon’s Career Choice Program, which offers the online consumer giant’s hourly employee’s access to SUNY Orange’s full array of degree and certification programs.


Also, SUNY Orange will serve as a lead campus for the state’s new cannabis program offering. Based on that designation, SUNY Orange will receive $1 million from New York State in order to help fund programs that will create or enhance non-degree and degree-eligible courses and programs, stackable credentials, and/or micro credentials that quickly address local employer skill needs within the cannabis sector, a projected multi-billion-dollar industry with tens of thousands of jobs.


The keynote speaker at the summit was Gus Scacco, CEO and Chief Investment Officer of Hudson Valley Investment Advisors.


While Scacco’s presentation was anything but uplifting, he did say that the U.S. economy is still strong even though the Federal Reserve is hiking interest rates aggressively to cool down the economy and inflation. He said that the Fed’s policy is not a scalpel, but in fact a hammer that will eventually slow down economic growth. However, at present, despite the hikes in rates, the labor market continues to be tight.


Scacco said that he recently attended an advertising conference where the word was that “People are talking their way into a recession.” For example, he said that electricity usage is up and manufacturing levels are strong as are a number of other sectors, which do not occur during a recession.


“Everywhere we look, there is no recession going on, but yet all the advertising firms and the managers that they are talking to are saying ‘We are waiting for the recession, ‘but their core businesses are not seeing it yet. So, we are kind of talking our way into a recession.”


He said that at present, while the U.S. economy is not where it was six months ago, “it is not falling off a cliff.”


Like other fiscal prognosticators, Scacco believes that any recession will not be severe and that certain industries will be harder hit than others.


“I think you are going to end up having what we will call a ‘growth recession.’ So, you are going to see the economy growing, but you are going to see some industry groups probably go through a period of cleansing,” he said.


Scacco later concluded that he does not expect the economic downturn to last that long, “but I think you will have a rolling recession through industry groups, though the overall economy will hold up.”


Among the many highlights of the day included Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus who gave high praise for Gross in organizing the first Orange County Summit. He also expressed his support of Orange County Industrial Development Agency CEO Bill Fioravanti and Chairman Mike Torelli and its Board of Directors for its reform efforts at the agency.