Orange County Partnership - News

Business gets behind Newburgh

By James Walsh
Times Herald-Record
Published: 08/01/13

CITY OF NEWBURGH — A unified effort by the city and regional business advocates to draw light industry to this once-booming Hudson River community was announced Wednesday in a building under renovation by one of the city's newest commercial enterprises.

Nearly 50 people, mostly government, civic, and business officials, gathered at Atlas Industries, a furniture designer and maker off Spring Street, to hear Mayor Judy Kennedy and others launch what they called "a river of opportunities."

This "river" finds sustenance in land and buildings in need of entrepreneurs to bring jobs in return for potential tax breaks from the city's Industrial Development Agency, said interim City Manager James Slaughter. It's a "river" featuring two colleges ready to help potential employers boost the skills of their workers, said Carl Meyer, president of the Solar Energy Consortium.

Video shows development
A video by the Orange County Partnership to boost Newburgh's cause showed off upscale riverfront development, the Newburgh Yacht Club, Mount Saint Mary College and SUNY Orange. There were photos of businesses such as the Newburgh Brewing Co., countertop maker the Granite Factory, and Unitex, a health care uniform and linen rental company.

"Isn't it amazing all the good things you see that you don't hear about every day?" Maureen Halahan, president of the partnership, said of a community where crime often drives headlines and poverty is a way of life for many residents.

But this was a day for positives; a day to show that Newburgh was on a new path cleared by collaborative efforts of the city and business advocates.

Accelerator's campaign
Peter Malone, development director of the Orange County Business Accelerator in New Windsor, detailed a campaign the accelerator developed to sell Newburgh to businesses in the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn. A website, will be launched to extoll the city's virtues.

"We want to get the word out to those folks, like Joseph, that we're here," Malone said, referring to Joseph Fratesi, a co-owner of Atlas Industries.

Fratesi said it was a no-brainer to move from Brooklyn last year, given the proximity to New York City and easy access to highways used by suppliers.

"Then we saw this building," Fratesi told the gathering. "And we realized we could have this building for the cost of renting in Brooklyn for one year."

Atlas occupies part of the building and is looking for other businesses to rent space. The floors are large, open and light-filled since Fratesi and partner Thomas Wright removed bricks that filled the window spaces and installed new glass.

"We're looking forward to connecting to the community," Fratesi said. "We hired four people who live in the City of Newburgh "» . I think we'll be able to attract other businesses from Brooklyn."

Streamlining approval process
Mayor Kennedy said after the meeting that the city has worked with Pace University to streamline the development-approval process. The city has merged some commissions to reduce the number of meetings applicants must attend, and permitted administrators to rule on some building decisions rather than sending applicants to yet another municipal board.

"For the business owners, the developers, time is money," said Courtney Kain, the city's director of community development.