Albany has come a long way since English navigator Henry Hudson, who was tasked by Dutch merchants to find a route to the Far East, landed on its shores in 1609. He didn’t accomplish this task, but he found Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) settlements willing to trade. 

Eventually, Dutch explorer Hendrick Christiaensen and Dutch trader Adriaen Block built a fort here to trade fur. This was the first permanent settlement of Albany, New York. Since then, Albany has been continuously settled. 

When the Manor of Rensselaerswyck was erected, Albany became focused on agriculture, in particular, wheat production. It became the second chartered city in the country in 1686, and in 1797, it became the capital of New York. 

With the construction of the Erie Canal and railroads, Albany started prioritizing sheep and dairy farming. And, with the expansion of the city’s populace in the 19th century, it became a center of craftsmen and limited manufacture. 

Thanks to its location at the junction of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers, Albany grew from a fur trading settlement into the New York State capital and a center of railroads, banking, retail commerce, international trade and a booming nanotechnology industry. 

Businesses and commercial entities claim Albany as their headquarters, and for good reason. Let’s see what else is positive about business in Albany.

The State of Business in Albany NY

If you’ve been to downtown Albany as a tourist, you most probably have had a taste of its flourishing craft beverage industry. But, beyond its historic downtown food tour and craft beverage trail, the city is home to other major industries.

Major industries

First among these is government (local, state and federal), which provides one-quarter of the employment in the area. Skilled workers employed by the state government is a major reason why most of the roughly 900,000 residents of the metro are well-educated and affluent, and many more are coming to work in Albany. 

Another important economic sector is the city’s high-tech cluster. Thanks to partnerships with New York State and local academic institutions, Albany has become part of the greater “Tech Valley” region along the Hudson River. The city focuses on nanotechnology microchip circuits.

Albany’s healthcare and education sectors also contribute heavily to the city’s economy. Albany’s gross metro product amounts to $71 billion, according to Forbes.

Major investments

Huge regional investments in Albany have also stirred up economic growth in the area. These include the $110 million investment around Albany Medical Center in Park South, the $750 million investment in NYS DOH Wadsworth Laboratories and the $92 million investment in the Albany International Airport and Northway Exit 4. 

Opportunity Zones in Albany, NY

Albany has 19 municipalities, which includes the city’s downtown area, suburbs and rural farming communities. To stimulate more economic development, the city has established Opportunity Zones, according to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. 

Opportunity Zones is a community investment tool, which provides a tax incentive, to encourage long-term investments in low-income communities. In Albany, there are six Opportunity Zones. These are Arbor Hill Neighborhood, Downtown Albany, University Heights, Lincoln Park, South End and South Waterfront. 

Arbor Hill Neighborhood

This area is famous for the historical Palace Theatre, Ten Broeck Mansion and Saint Joseph’s Church. Arbor Hill is one of the first neighborhoods of the city, so it’s no wonder the area has many historic structures. Henry Johnson Boulevard’s commercial area is also located in the neighborhood.

Downtown Albany

This zone, which includes Downtown Albany and the North Albany Warehouse District, receives more than 1 million visitors annually. It is the seat of the New York State government, Fortune 500 companies, renowned hotels and world-class dining. Downtown Albany is also home to major entertainment venues and cultural institutions, such as the Albany Capital Center, the Egg Performing Arts Center and the Times Union Center. 

University Heights

University Heights is the location of three universities (Albany College of Pharmacy, Sage College and Albany Law School), the Albany Medical Center (AMC) and a commercial area filled with restaurants, retail stores and health care-related businesses. 

Lincoln Park

Anchored by its namesake Lincoln Park, this neighborhood is home to beautiful landmarks and architecture, such as the New York State Executive Mansion. The New York State Museum and the Capital South Campus Center are also located here. 

South End

South End is the traditional downtown of the city. It is known for the Empire State Plaza and its iconic Victorian row houses. Major transportation links are located nearby, including the Amtrak Rail, New York State Thruway, Greyhound Bus Stations and various bus routes. 

South Waterfront

This area consists of Zones 23, 25 and 26 that are anchored by the Port of Albany. The industries in the port drive the economy along with a commercial corridor of small shops and other locally owned businesses. South Waterfront is also home to a vibrant working-class community. 

Economic Development Resources in Albany NY 

Albany has seen significant economic growth and development in the past several years. For instance, Downtown Albany received $35 million investments that went to the creation of new world-class dining venues, expansion and updating of entertainment locations and new residential units. 

A major driver of this economic flourishing is Capitalize Albany. So too are the many financing options and incentives available to business owners and budding entrepreneurs. 

Capitalize Albany

Albany’s economic development arm, Capitalize Albany Corporation is a registered 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization. It helps the city grow through its programs and resources that aim to create, retain and attract business to Albany and by its partnerships with the Capital Resource Corporation (CRC) and the Industrial Development Agency (IDA). 

Capitalize Albany can help you find the best location in the city for your business, whether you’re looking to learn more about vacant properties, relocating or expanding your business. 

Financing options and incentives

If you choose to do business in Albany, New York, there are plenty of sources that can help you fund your venture. Chief among those sources are the IDA and the CRC. In addition, Albany also offers entrepreneurs some pretty sweet incentives. 

Financing options – Capitalize Albany’s Real Estate Loan Program helps support efforts to revitalize properties in the city, while the organization’s Business Development Loan Program will assist businesses with a significant economic impact in the city. The Al Tech Loan Fund can provide entrepreneurs working capital or with money to buy fixed assets.

The Capital District Community Loan Fund (CDCLF) supports disadvantaged communities, while the Statewide Zone Capital Corporation (SZCC) offers low-interest loans to certified Empire Zone businesses. It is also the local SBA certified lender. Meanwhile, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) provides up to 4% interest rate reductions to loans for renewable technologies and energy-efficiency projects.

Incentives – Albany implements tax credit and real property tax abatement programs. Income-producing properties can receive tax credits from the Federal Investment Tax Credit Program for Income Producing Properties and the New York State Tax Credit Program for Income Producing Properties. 

Meanwhile, owners of historic houses can receive a tax incentive for rehabilitation work on the structure through the New York State Historic Homeownership Rehabilitation Tax Credit. These historic properties might also receive a property tax incentive via the City of Albany Historic Property Tax Abatement program.   

The 485-a Residential-Commercial Urban Exemption, on the other hand, provides exemptions from real property taxes and special levies for any non-residential property that’s converted to a structure for mix residential and commercial uses.

How is business in Albany?

In conclusion, sounds like business is good in Albany with many opportunities for growth and sustainability.