10 Questions with Marty Vanags
Marty Vanags, president of Saratoga County’s official economic development organization, celebrates one year on the job today. In addition to professional accomplishments, we wanted to know what he has come to love about Saratoga County. Here’s what he had to say.
What accomplishment in the past 12 months are you most proud of?
I think launching The Saratoga Strategy, our comprehensive plan for economic development in Saratoga County, and Business First Saratoga, our business retention and expansion program are something I can be proud of. Getting both of these off the ground were real milestones.
Where in the Saratoga County have you and wife decided to call home?
My wife, Trish and I, have found our dream home on six acres in beautiful Galway. We were really hoping for a quiet home in the country and I think we found it! It’s a well-preserved Greek Revival Farmhouse built in 1832, complete with beautiful vitas and large locust trees. We can’t wait for spring and summer to enjoy the outdoors on our new property.
Have you established any Saratoga County traditions?
My wife and I like customs and traditions, so we establish many and they usually center around eating out. It’s always Italian night on Wednesday. On Friday it’s Mexican/margarita night. We become very fond of both Cantina in Saratoga Springs and Amigo’s in Schuylerville. Saturday night we like to pick something people are raving about, like 15 Church, or Prime.
You’re a seasoned economic development professional. In comparison to other regions where you have served, what uniquely positions Saratoga County as a place to do business?
Everything from the arts to our natural resources to horse racing to the nearby Adirondacks make it a lovely place. However, it isn’t just the quality of place we must identify; we have to find the companies that have a reason to do business in the northeast. When we do this, we then need to give them every reason in the world – including our quality of place – to consider us their first choice.
What acclamation advice would you give to someone moving to this area for the first time?
Stop lights. They seem to have a really long cycle time here!
“Saratoga Summer” is a catch phrase for a reason. What did you not experience last summer that you’d like to this year?
I didn’t experience SPAC’s classical season – that will be a priority this summer. Also, I want to hike in the Adirondacks when it’s warm.
Do you see a strong correlation, if any, between Saratoga County’s tourism business and economic development attraction efforts?
Every place I have worked people always say the same thing, “Once people visit or live here, they don’t want to leave.” I think that resonates here more than any place I have lived. What can we do to capture the hearts of business-minded people when they visit our area as a tourist? We’re actually going to release a study during Economic Development Week (May 8 – 14, 2016) that hits at this issue. Stay tuned for more on this very subject come Monday.
Known for your bowties, what percentage of business owners in Saratoga County also wear the fashion statement on a regular basis?
Not enough! My chiropractor, Adam Favro is the only other guy I know who wears bowties every day. Right now, it makes me relatively easy to identify; if too many people start wearing them, I am going to move on to ascots.
Economic developers spend a lot of time on the road. What’s been your favorite drive so far in Saratoga County?
There are so many to choose from, but right now my favorite is Route 67 eastbound right near Cook Road. There is slight bend to the southeast and on clear day you can see all the mountains to the east! Another favorite is Fox Hill Road which turns into Lake Desolation Road coming from Edinburg. Once you crest the mountain top and come down the other side one can see for at least 100 miles to the southeast and into Albany. It’s breathtaking.
What should we expect in your second year on the job?
Year one was a process of building a foundation. In the next year, everyone will begin to see the very beginnings of the Partnership’s efforts: more clients and projects, and more announcements of businesses growing and how we were able to help them. Business First Saratoga is key for us.