Chamber Has a Pulse on Business Climate

CENTRAL VALLEY – Representatives from some of the county’s new additions to the local business community shared their thoughts on what influenced their decision to do business in Orange County and what they think could be done to improve economic development moving forward.

At an Orange County Chamber of Commerce breakfast Thursday, CEO of City Winery Michael Dorf and President of Hudson Valley Sports Complex Ralucha Gold-Fuchs, shared a similar opinion on what has brought them here: Orange County is close enough to New York City for day trips, within reach of international travelers using metropolitan airports and provides an aesthetic for which metropolitan people are looking.

Dorf, who initially started off with a New York City-based music venue called the Knitting Factory and has since operated locations in a number of metropolitan areas across the country, took it a step further and added that the Hudson Valley is looking like it could become the next tourist hub within the state akin to the Hamptons.

“This is a great part of the state and I think people are getting sick of the Hamptons and they’re loving the Hudson Valley,” said Dorf. “Whether it’s on the east side of the river, I think the west side is kind of cooler and a little more rural and culinary suited.”

According to County Executive Steven Neuhaus, tourism remains a major focus of economic development in the county, specifically for its ability to bring in sales tax revenue; which in turn, helps to offset the cost of property taxes.

However, the county is still lacking in the infrastructure to support its growth. Gold-Fuchs said having better highway infrastructure, more viable public transportation, lodging and more international travel options through Stewart Airport would be a huge advantage. Currently, their issue, having approximately 1,000 children trained at the Hudson Valley Sports Complex per week, is where the parents can go and how quickly they can get home.

“I speak to people who are not locals a lot and their biggest challenges are: how do I get there, how long will it take me, how quickly can I get back,” said Gold-Fuchs. “People work, people want to have fun; but, they want to go back quickly. So, that would help a lot, I think, in our case.”

Officials agreed that keeping up with the demand for better infrastructure is a major priority and that they will keep fostering the growing economy that is blossoming in the county.

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