Shortly after I took office, our assessment rolls hit a low point; just under $35 billion, down $13 billion from their peak in 2008. Big taxpayers like Lovett, Mirant, Novartis and others left the County. But one of the promises I made to you upon my election was this; that I would right our fiscal ship.
One of the keys to improving Rockland’s finances was to bring that level of investment back to Rockland. I am proud to say we have made great progress; adding $7.5 billion back to those tax assessment rolls. We have done this through great partnerships with local organizations like the Rockland Industrial Development Agency and the Rockland Economic Development Corporation (REDC) along with our own Office of Economic Development.
We are now embarking on the next step of that partnership by hiring Jeremy Schulman, the President and CEO of the REDC, to be our new Director of Economic Development and Tourism. Jeremy served in that role at the REDC for the last two years; supporting the County’s efforts. He understands what needs to be done and is prepared to step in without missing a beat.
As CEO of the REDC, Jeremy partnered with municipal, county, non-profit and community officials to advance a complementary focus on village centers, gateways, infrastructure, corridors and adaptive reuse to position the county for balanced growth. He brought in a record number of grant awards to Rockland in the competitive NYS Consolidated Funding process and identified and secured additional funding opportunities for business development.
And with Jeremy transitioning into a leadership position within County Government we looked for ways to expand upon the success of the REDC while reducing the duplication of services. To that end goal I have announced the formation of the Rockland Advisory Council for Economic Development (RACED). This all volunteer Council will consist of the best Rockland has to offer; captains of industry from finance, construction, manufacturing and other fields.
RACED will fulfill the advisory functions previously associated with the REDC while other services are performed by Jeremy Schulman and the Office of Economic Development and Tourism. This move is a seismic shift in how County Government will drive future economic development, both here in Rockland and around the region.
This new level of collaboration and sharing of services is critical to the future success of our County. We will be able to leverage the successes and relationships built by the REDC in the public and private sectors to build upon the $7.5 billion in tax ratable growth since I took office.
The money we previously budgeted year after year to fund the REDC will be reinvested in the Office of Economic Development and Tourism to further expand upon their efforts with a much more streamlined approach. Let me be clear, there are no increased costs associated with this change as we move to improve our efforts. I look forward to working closely with Jeremy and RACED as we move closer to the bright future we all envision for this county.