The State of Our Economy
We have faced challenges that no one expected, and we have met them head on. Time and time again the people of Rockland and our dedicated team in County government have stepped up. Upon taking office in 2014 we faced a $138 million dollar deficit. Through conservative budgeting and with a strong focus on economic growth we have completely reversed our fortunes.
Today, we have a multi-million-dollar surplus, and we are working to rebuild County government to prepare for future challenges. We are focused on the future; creating resiliency to support our residents and the next generation of Rocklanders. As the last seven years have proven, we do not know exactly what awaits us, but I promise you this, we are resilient, and we are ready.
Despite our continued focus on the pandemic, we have not lost sight of the many other important functions of County government. Our Office of Economic Development and Tourism welcomed back Director Lucy Redzeposki who has assisted with the retention, expansion and relocation of nearly 50 major projects around Rockland which have produced new jobs, tax ratables and resulted in considerable private investment.
Our assessment roll hit a low point in 2015 but since then we’ve added $8 billion back to the tax rolls and are continuing to grow that number.
The biomed sector in Rockland is booming. First, let us credit the talented scientists at Pfizer for their work developing a lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer’s home at the New York Center for Innovation campus in Pearl River has been a center of medical advancement for over 100 years and I am so proud of what they’ve accomplished. Let’s give them a hand.
And besides Pfizer – the campus continues to grow – NY Critical Materials, a manufacturer of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is the latest company to move to Pearl River. They are leasing over 50,000 square feet of commercial space to create a $4.9 million facility. They plan to hire 100 new employees and have invested in eight specialized machines that will allow them to manufacture 2 to 3 million N95 respirator face masks per day.
The opening of this facility will help prevent any future PPE shortages and their made-in-America mission will support New York State and local needs. We are getting people back to work, leveraging State resources and investment to bring new businesses to Rockland. That is how we have created a stable tax base over the last 7 years and brought back billions of tax ratables that were lost during the great recession.
Remember, each and every one of these businesses not only creates good paying jobs but helps protect you from the double-digit tax increases of the past. Smart, sustainable development is the future of Rockland, and I will not stop fighting for it.
Partnering on these efforts are Steven Porath and the Rockland Industrial Development Agency. By the numbers in 2021 alone:
· 17 new project applications
· $981 million in investments
· 400 new jobs created
· Nearly 600 existing jobs retained
· Plus, thousands of temporary construction jobs during the building or expansion process
This is truly amazing; the projects span multiple job sectors including manufacturing, distribution, recreation, office space and a new datacenter, showing just how broad Rockland’s appeal is. We are business savvy and companies have recognized that Rockland is leading the way in our region.
I believe that it is not the role of government to create jobs. Government must create an environment where businesses can thrive and create new private-sector jobs; we have done exactly that. These investments and others will lead to further improvements in the local unemployment rate which stood at 5.1% in July, down from a high of 13.4% during the worst of the pandemic last April.
Rockland was the first county in the Hudson Valley to welcome back the film industry and resume production last year. And despite filming being shut down for 4 months the county’s film revenue has grown considerably – generating total revenue of more than $378,000 in 2020, and more than $870,000 so far in 2021. And this is just what’s filmed on county-owned property.
Each and every dollar spent on film production positively impacts our entire county with productions utilizing hotels, buying gas and patronizing local restaurants or caterers – providing additional boosts to local businesses.
We have made incredible progress these past 7 and ½ years that I have been your County Executive. We have improved and streamlined county government for the benefit of both the people we serve and for our taxpayers.
We have orchestrated a remarkable economic recovery. We have fought a measles outbreak and a global pandemic. Now we are ready to embark on the next chapter, and I look forward to leading the way as your County Executive.