10 Questions with Shelby Schneider
Shelby Schneider, director of business retention and expansion at Saratoga County’s official economic development organization, celebrates her first week on the job. Don’t let that fool you. Shelby is a seasoned economic development professional with over a decade of experience. We wanted to know what makes her so passionate about Saratoga County. Here’s what she had to say.
What are you most excited about as you join the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership team?
I look forward to reconnecting with business and community leaders throughout Saratoga County, the Capital Region, and beyond. My first week felt like a reunion of sorts and it was wonderful to hear from so many old friends and colleagues. Even though I spent the past two and a half years working at a Saratoga County manufacturer, I truly missed spending my days out in the community, meeting with businesses, connecting them with resources, and working in partnership with the community to help create jobs, investment, and tax base for Saratoga County
Where in Saratoga County do you call home?
I live in Wilton with my husband and four children. Lately, we are spending so much time at the soccer and baseball fields at Gavin Park, it feels like our second home. We can’t wait for the new water park to open this summer.
How would you describe Saratoga County in 10 words or less?
The ideal community to live, work, play, and do business. (10 words doesn’t seem to do it justice!)
What’s your preferred method of meeting?
My favorite place to meet is at someone’s place of business. If it happens to be a manufacturer, there is an added level of joy for me because I love to see how things are made – I truly “Geek Out.” You can learn so much about a business, their industry, workforce, and company culture by taking a tour of the operation. I have also found that a great way to get to know someone is by playing a round of golf with them. You get between 4-5 hours of one-on-one. I learned to golf after I got into this field because I figured out that I was missing out on the best meetings.
What was it like working in the Craft Brewing Industry?
There was a lot of beer! Seriously, the business is so entrepreneurial and a majority of people I met – consumers, retailers, wholesalers and brewers are so passionate about the business and the product. It is also incredibly collaborative. Breweries are so open with one another about their brewing process, recipe development, where they get raw materials, you name it. There are now over 4,300 breweries in the U.S. and I believe a majority of that growth is fostered by the collaboration that exists within the industry.
You’ve worked in economic development before. What communities across the country are doing economic development really well?
Communities that plan together and build consensus around a common vision and shared assets are the most successful. It takes years of planning to become an overnight success. When you speak to community leaders from Saratoga who were around in the 60’s and 70’s, you realize the amount of long range planning and community engagement that it took to make Saratoga what it is today.
When it comes to major attraction projects like developing the Luther Forest Technology Campus, the public and private sectors partners throughout Saratoga County, the region, and state did a remarkable job working together to rezone the campus, plan for and build infrastructure, initiate a global business attraction campaign, then incentivize the first project. There were many players involved and everyone “sang from the song sheet” to accomplish a huge goal. That kind of success only comes from collaboration.
When it comes to the national scene, I look to Marty Vanags to learn about best practices in economic development. He has so much experience in a variety of different communities and regions. His extended network of economic developers and global site selectors is an enormous asset to Saratoga County.
What do you consider Saratoga County’s strongest selling points to be?
Saratoga County boasts an incredible quality of place, proximity to major markets, world class research and development, an educated workforce, and abundant natural resources. The strongest selling points really depend on who we’re selling to and what Saratoga County is best suited to attract. Some businesses may value the proximity to major markets, or a cluster of similar industries, while others value the quality of place – to attract and retain a talented workforce.
What are some of your favorite Saratoga County traditions?
There are so many fun traditions that we love to share with our family. I love to take my children to the Philadelphia Orchestra at SPAC. It is such a wonderful experience and we’re so blessed to have a world-class outdoor venue in our back yard. We are also huge fans of the Saratoga Flag Day Parade in June. In the summer, we love picnicking on the backfield at Saratoga Polo. It wouldn’t be autumn in Saratoga County without a visit to Bowman’s Orchard or Saratoga Apple for apple picking.
As you envision Saratoga County’s future, what do you see?
I see business and community leaders working together to implement The Saratoga Strategy – the Partnership’s two-year plan for promoting job creation and economic growth.
What should people expect to see from you in your first year on the job?
They should expect to see me, a lot! If you have a business in Saratoga County, please count on a visit or call from me and our Business First Saratoga business retention team!