Orange County Partnership - News

Entering 2022 on a More Positive Note

By Maureen Halahan

Looking at the national economy and the business climate for Orange County in 2022, it would be easy for me to focus on the headwinds we face, such as inflation, supply chain problems, COVID-19 and the Omicron variant.  However, I believe those negative forces are temporary issues that will be addressed in due time.


I would rather point out some positives taking place here and elsewhere that indicate a much brighter future for the nation and Orange County is on the horizon in 2022 and beyond.


While headlines indicate businesses are pushing back their return to office programs due to the spread of COVID-19, many scientists believe the latest rise in infections, due chiefly to the Omicron variant, will decline sometime later this month or in early February. In fact, major meeting planners seem to be banking on that forecast and are planning large in-person events for late February and early March, including the Site Selectors Guild Annual Conference to be held on March 2-4th in San Diego, CA and the NYSEDC Economic Development Conference, which will be held from February 28-March 1st in Albany.


Here are some other items that should instill confidence in the Orange County economy this year:


  • The new cannabis law in New York State is fueling significant investment in Orange County and surrounding counties in the Hudson Valley. For example, firms such as PharmaCann, urbanXtracts, GreenThumb and CITIVA are spending millions of dollars on projects here, including at the Warwick Valley Office and Technology Corporate Park, which has become a hub for this burgeoning industry.


  • Orange County has benefitted greatly from the Consolidated Funding Application program this year. The state has recently entered its fourth round of funding awards with a total of 14 county-based businesses applying for funds for their projects.


  • Governor Kathy Hochul doubled down on infrastructure investment in her State of the State address. As we report in this newsletter, the governor has directed the New York State Department of Transportation to expedite the conversion of Route 17 to I-86 and begin the environmental review of that initiative, which is to include the study the addition of a third lane in Orange and Sullivan counties. This is a major victory for the 17-Forward-86 Coalition and I believe will lead to major investment in interchange upgrades and the addition of a third lane on this vital highway in the not too distant future. Federal funding will be available for this project thanks to the recently passed multi-year federal infrastructure bill.


  • The governor is also calling for an historic investment in clean energy and green infrastructure, bridge, highway and wastewater projects and is also putting a $4-billion environmental bond act before the voters this November. These projects will fuel economic growth and employ tens of thousands of workers in the construction and energy sectors.


  • We all know that the airline industry has been battered by the pandemic and as a result the hoped-for growth at New York Stewart International Airport has been stalled. However, with some carriers recently announcing additional service at the airport and new marketing efforts underway by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey promoting Stewart, the skies are clear for the resumption of growth there.


I am pleased to report that a new committee is being formed for Stewart Airport—The Stewart Air Service Development Committee (SASDC)—and my colleagues, Heather Bell-Meyer, President of OC Chamber and Amanda Dana, Director of OC Tourism and I will unite key Hudson Valley business and tourism stakeholders to:


 (1) build awareness of NY Stewart International Airport (SWF);


(2) identify community support channels for new and current SWF air service and;


(3) to expand air travel operations at SWF through active assessment of the ongoing air travel needs of the region. 


We are only 13 days into the new year, and we have reason to believe that 2022 will outshine 2021.  We’re here for you so stay connected!