12.14.2015

Clifton Park launches joint-venture with The Chamber of Southern Saratoga County


New initiative will focus on Clifton Park’s Hospitality Sector

Clifton Park, NY -- The Town of Clifton Park is presenting a new initiative to bolster the economic viability of the Town, while ensuring the preservation and enhancement of the vital elements that make Clifton Park an attractive place to live, visit and conduct commerce. Public safety, infrastructure improvements, traffic improvements, pedestrian access enhancements and an aesthetically pleasing environment are elements of a successful municipality. “Building value in a community, while maintaining a low cost basis for living and conducting business is vital to attracting new investment and ensuring the future success of any municipality,” said Town Supervisor Phil Barrett.

Since 2000, the Exit 9 Commerce Area of Clifton Park has experienced a revitalization. The empty buildings and retail space that dotted the landscape of this area in the 1990s is now a distant memory.  “Beginning with the arrival of Boscov’s in 2001, the fortunes of the Exit 9 Commerce Area and the Town of Clifton Park have experienced a tremendous rebound,” said Barrett. Soon after Boscov’s arrived, Target, Kohl’s and other retailers invested millions in our Town. Further redevelopment of vacant or tired properties has occurred as the economy has become diversified. $90 million in new healthcare investments and a burgeoning hospitality sector have offered vital services to Clifton Park residents close to home and expanded the Town’s tax base. Clifton Park’s newly established Town Center Plan will offer more opportunities to attract new investment and lead to further redevelopment. 

Although Clifton Park has had hotels operating in the municipality for many years, new investment has now increased the amount of hotel rooms available to 710. New projects not yet constructed, could increase that number to just shy of 1000 rooms by 2017. Clifton Park’s low cost basis while conducting commerce is just one element that makes the Town attractive to the hospitality sector.  When comparing Clifton Park to other municipalities around the Capital Region, the Town compares favorably in every category. A comparison of Property taxes, County sales tax rates and occupancy taxes establish Clifton Park as a very low cost municipality, when compared to other areas. See chart below for a comparison of sales tax and occupancy tax rates.

                                                            County ­Sales Tax        Occupancy Tax
            Clifton Park                            7%                               1% (Saratoga County)
            Saratoga Springs                     7%                               6%
            Albany County                       8%                               6%                
            Schenectady County               8%                               4%

The increase in hospitality investment in Clifton Park has presented new opportunities for the Town.  In an effort to further engage the local investors in this industry and strengthen relationships that will result in a flourishing economy, the Town of Clifton Park is establishing a new program. The Town of Clifton Park has held meetings with hotel owners and operators in recent months to discuss ideas and opportunities available to both the Town and hospitality sector. The discussions have provided a framework for a new initiative that will enhance business opportunities and ensure further success for the hospitality sector and all investors in Clifton Park.

The initiative will be executed through a partnership between the Town of Clifton Park and The Chamber of Southern Saratoga County. The Chamber, under the leadership of Peter Bardunias, will have dedicated staff working to promote Clifton Park, with the hospitality sector being the centerpiece of the promotional efforts. A new Clifton Park Hospitality Committee will be created with representation consisting of the leadership teams of each hotel in Clifton Park. This committee will be invited to meet, as a group, with Town and Chamber representatives periodically to share ideas and discuss new opportunities. Chamber Staff will also be available for individual meetings and exchange of information on a daily basis. A dedicated web presence and printed materials will support the promotional efforts of the new program. In addition, the Chamber will host a one stop job opportunity promotional effort to assist the hospitality sector recruit employees and post available job openings.
   
The new program will not expand Town Government or create any new public sector jobs. The Town of Clifton Park, through a unique partnership with the Chamber, will be able to execute an efficient and successful effort focused on promoting Clifton Park and the hospitality sector of our economy.  There will be no new fees or membership dues charged to any business involved in the program.  Instead, funding will derive from a 1.5% Occupancy Tax. The new fees will be paid by hotel room occupants. Even with the addition of this new fee, Clifton Park maintains a cost basis well below our competition. Funds derived from this new program will also support the goal of maintaining and improving the vital elements for a municipality’s success listed in the first paragraph. The Town of Clifton Park will collect and manage the disbursement of funds through an annual plan that will be completed by December 1st of each year. The plan will be a collaborative effort working with The Chamber of Southern Saratoga County and the Hospitality Committee.

“The goal of this new effort is to have a collaborative program that provides meaningful results for the hospitality sector and the Town of Clifton Park, said Barrett. The hospitality customer base for Clifton Park is business travel, sports teams and families. This demographic will be our focus, while working toward expanding the customer base,” Barrett added. “The other crucial focus of this new initiative will be tangible improvements in what makes Clifton Park a wonderful place to live, invest and conduct business. Funds from this initiative will be invested directly into the geographical area that comprises the hospitality sector in Clifton Park, which is generally the Exit 9 Commerce Area.

“The Town has outlined a Hotel District, which includes only the area where the hotels currently reside. Funds derived from the Occupancy Tax will only be invested within this boundary. The boundaries of the Hotel District can only be changed to accommodate a new hotel not yet contemplated.

The Town and The Chamber of Southern Saratoga County are currently working on an estimated annual budget that will include personnel, a new website, printed promotional materials, signage, marketing goals and other important segments of a successful program.

Chamber President Pete Bardunias is excited about the new initiative and partnership. “This initiative will allow us to expand the Chamber’s resources and cultivate an experienced team of people on the ground working for our members every day, said Bardunias. We have formulated a basic plan, but new ideas are inserted on a constant basis. We look forward to enhancing the economic environment of the hospitality sector and all businesses sectors in Clifton Park.”

The Clifton Park Town Board and The Chamber of Southern Saratoga County will be submitting home rule legislation to the New York State Legislature for approval, which will provide the needed funding for this initiative.

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