County Executive Bullish on Orange County Economy
John Jordan | September 2019
Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus says that despite some recent setbacks, business investment is very strong in Orange County.
With the LEGOLAND New York resort now under construction and set for a spring 2020 opening, investors and developers have broken ground on new residential, hotel and retail projects, as well as the county’s bread and butter sector—warehouse and distribution facilities.
Neuhaus, Orange County’s sixth County Executive, is a lifelong county resident who was sworn into office on Jan. 1, 2014 after having served as the Town of Chester’s Supervisor for six years.
The affable Neuhaus answered some questions posed by Real Estate In-Depth on the county’s economy, the highly popular New York International Air Show at New York Stewart International Airport, as well as his view on the future of that airport.
Real Estate In-Depth: What is your view of the current state of the Orange County economy and where do you see it headed in 2020?
Neuhaus: We are in a strong position economically and we continue to be proactive. Obviously, Legoland is a huge game changer. Our hotels and residential housing units are up as a result. Retail operations are up. The medical service industry is very strong. We are seeing development in areas that have been stagnant for years—for example the Goshen Plaza—and they are not even having to rely on tax incentives to make it work.
Real Estate In-Depth: Another highly successful Air Show was held at New York Stewart International Airport recently. What does that event bring to Orange County and will it be held next year in Orange County?
Neuhaus: The Air Show has resulted in regional and national exposure, and obviously more tourism spending. I was personally honored, having recently returned from a stint in Iraq, to have General Williams (West Point Superintendent) come to the show this year. I (very respectfully) pointed out to him that here we are in Orange County, home to the greatest educational military institution in the world, and the Navy and Air Force are dominating the air show. I would love to see some of the Army’s finest aircraft here (if you are reading this General Williams, I respectfully suggest an Osprey MV-22).
Real Estate In-Depth: What is the status of the possible development at the former Camp LaGuardia property by Great Wolf Lodge. Also, can you provide an update on what other development or property sales are in the works there?
Neuhaus: The County Legislature just enacted a local law at my request to permit Camp LaGuardia to be sold in pieces. Previously they had refused to allow that—meaning one big buyer would have to buy the whole thing. I’ve asked them for several years to change the law and now they have. Hopefully that will encourage more activity on site.
Real Estate In-Depth: The loss of Norwegian Airlines is definitely a set-back to the region. Do you believe Stewart will be the economic engine everyone has hoped for?
Neuhaus: Aviation and transportation in general I believe are growing industries. We really need our state lawmakers to prioritize Stewart. The state (Port Authority to be specific) really controls the site. We need our state legislators to make flying out of Stewart cheaper. There is a proven international market at Stewart—particularly to Ireland. I have asked Senator Schumer to put together a meeting with any airline he has contacts with. Unlike other officials who are looking for their next office or job, I have always found him really tuned into local needs and I am hoping he can bring us some results.
Real Estate In-Depth: There is an effort to expand Route 17 to three lanes. Are you a supporter of that effort?
Neuhaus: Yes, only the state can prioritize improvements to this State Highway. They need to.
Neuhaus is a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves, currently assigned to a Naval Special Warfare team. Earlier this year, the County Executive completed a six-month deployment in Iraq serving with the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force. Neuhaus spent the majority of his deployment in various locations throughout Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S. military campaign against ISIS.
He has earned two warfare designations: Seabee Combat Warfare (SCW) Officer and Navy Expeditionary Supply Corps Officer (NESCO) and holds certifications from the Naval War College and the Joint Special Operations University. He is currently working towards his Joint Professional Military Education I degree in National Securities Studies.
The New York State Association of Counties presented Orange County Executive Neuhaus with its Executive Director Award for Public Service at its Fall Seminar at Resorts World Catskills in Monticello on Sept. 17.
NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario said that Neuhaus was selected for his commitment and service to both Orange County and the country.
“Public service comes in many ways and County Executive Neuhaus has demonstrated that in Orange County and while serving our country abroad,” Acquario said. “Time and again County Executive Neuhaus has demonstrated his commitment to the residents of Orange County. He is well-liked and respected by his peers in New York State, earning a reputation for his hard work and his hands-on approach to getting things done. County Executive Neuhaus has made Orange County a leader in economic development and tourism, while strengthening the county’s infrastructure. We look forward to honoring County Executive Neuhaus and showing our appreciation for all of his efforts.”