In a concerted effort to re-energize Westchester County’s business climate, the Westchester County Office of Economic Development today unveiled an ambitious multi-year advertising and digital branding campaign focused on what makes Westchester unique – its intellectual capital.
“Westchester County’s highly educated workforce is among its greatest and most important assets. From Yonkers to Yorktown to all four corners of the county, we have one of the best educated workforces in the nation,” said Laurence P. Gottlieb, the county’s Director of Economic Development. “And the exceptional quality of the workforce crosses all job categories from high-level scientists, engineers and mathematicians to the construction trades, retail sector and the arts. It’s a key factor in attracting and keeping world-class companies in Westchester.”
Speaking at a news conference held today at the new Gateway Center at Westchester Community College, Mr. Gottlieb said: “This campaign is a creative and realistic approach to economic development given today’s difficult economy and the limited availability of government economic development incentives. In launching a proactive marketing campaign we are laying the groundwork for renewing the underpinning of Westchester’s economy.”
Mr. Gottlieb said the campaign lets Westchester be a player in the region’s economic development arena. “It is imperative that our county move forward in the business arena. While there is a clear and urgent need for more business incentives that must be addressed by our government to help New York State be competitive in attracting and retaining businesses, in Westchester we have made the decision that we simply cannot afford to wait for the incentive programs to catch-up.”
Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino said: "Smart economic development begins with government providing a solid platform upon which entrepreneurs in businesses of every size can build their vision for the future. A successful public-private partnership begins with the county offering help and eliminating obstacles. This campaign is a major first step in the right direction.”
The campaign’s tagline – “Westchester County: New York’s Intellectual Capital” – plays off the double meaning of the word “capital” as an asset and a center of activity. A series of initial print and online ads will debut today in area media including the Journal News, Wall Street Journal, Westchester County Business Journal and Westchester Magazine’s new business publication 914 Inc. The campaign is being funded by the Westchester County Industrial Development Agency (IDA).
IDA Board Chairman Stephen Hunt noted, “Investing in economic development exemplifies the mission of Westchester County's Industrial Development Agency, which remains a powerful tool for encouraging business expansion, promoting sustainable growth and attracting new companies to the region. Working closely with the Office of Economic Development, we are forging a new path towards aggressively marketing Westchester's many benefits to the world."
The ads feature elements of people’s everyday lives – a picket fence, a coffee cup, and someone’s own hand – adorned with complex mathematical, chemical and engineering formulas. In the ad featuring the coffee cup, the headline reads “In Westchester, brilliance happens all the time.” And the copy reads: “Some may call this doodling. But to the thousands of brilliant men and women who live and work in Westchester, this speaks to them. Loud and clear. That’s one of the reasons so many companies – from biotech start-ups to IT and financial giants – are moving here and expanding. We’re New York’s Intellectual Capital, a thriving landscape of constant inspiration with a lifestyle that is second to none. Tap into New York’s brain power drawn from world-renowned colleges, universities and research centers. And so close and accessible to New York City, the world’s financial center.”
Mr. Gottlieb said Westchester faces challenges in attracting new businesses as well as retaining existing companies. “Westchester is not a low-cost area and the economic downturn has put a strain on government’s ability to provide financial incentives for businesses.” On the other hand, he said Westchester continues to offer numerous advantages to businesses, notably its highly educated workforce, exceptional K-12 schools and close proximity to some of the nation’s top colleges and universities. He noted that 45% of the county’s residents 25 years and older hold bachelor’s degrees or higher. The average for New York State is 32% while nationally it’s 27%.
In addition to its intellectual wealth, Westchester also benefits from being just 35 miles north of New York City, the nation’s financial center and home to numerous Fortune 500 companies. Westchester also has an excellent transportation infrastructure that includes major highways, three commuter rail lines, an award-winning bus system and its own airport. And the county has a world-wide reputation for the quality of life it offers.
Mr. Gottlieb said the first phase of the campaign is aimed at the Westchester market and plays to the county’s strengths in today’s hot growth sectors of biotechnology, finance, healthcare, information technology and environmental technologies. Biotech has gained a presence in recent years with over 60 biotech companies located throughout the Hudson Valley region – many of those firms call Westchester home. “We want to create a new sense of excitement about Westchester County within the county’s business community, something that’s been missing in recent years with the downturn in the economy,” he said.
The Westchester Office of Economic Development is also launching today a new website – http://www.thinkingWestchester.com – designed to reflect the new campaign and the focus on the county’s intellectual capital. The website features links to key business resources, including the Westchester County Industrial Development Agency, so that business owners interested in coming to Westchester – or expanding their current county footprint – have the necessary tools and information available to them at all times.