A Renewed Sense of Purpose
The creation of the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth (FCCRG) in 2012 marks the birth of a new era of support for economic development in Fulton County. Formed to integrate and build upon the successes of two existing economic development entities, the FCCRG has been tasked by the leaders of Fulton County to focus and reinvigorate efforts to attract and assist quality employers in Fulton County and its neighboring communities.
The economic development triumphs of the last two decades are a gauge of greater things to come. Since the late 1980s, nearly 2,000 jobs have been created by employers drawn to state-of-the-art sites in beautiful rolling expanses at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains.
Since the late 1980s, 46 buildings with a combined square footage of 2,447,379 square feet have been constructed or renovated, bringing in investments exceeding $120 million. Transportation and export access is easily available via I-90, I-87 and I-88, as well as an in-county airport, the nearby Albany International Airport and port access in Albany for international transport.
In 1995, the international retailer Walmart chose the Johnstown Industrial Park for its regional return center, and five years later added the 868,000 square foot Northeast Distribution Center #6096. The retailer’s capital investment exceeded $70 million, creating 900 jobs.
Major new employers such as Greek yogurt producer FAGE USA Dairy and feta cheesemaker Euphrates Inc. have taken advantage of Fulton County’s wealth of dairy farms, well-educated and motivated workforce, low cost of living and proximity to New York City, Boston, Montreal, Buffalo and other major metropolitan markets.
In 2013, CG Roxane began bottling and shipping Crystal Geyser® Alpine Spring water from a 176,757 square foot bottling plant in Johnstown, drawing water under a lease and water purchase agreement with the Village of Canajoharie in neighboring Montgomery County. Along with the Chobani Yogurt plant in nearby Chenango County and Spanish charcutier Pata Negra, these Fulton County manufacturers are developing the region as a major food processing hub.
Also coming on line in 2015 is the new 515-acre Tryon Technology Park and Incubator Center on County Highway 107 in Gloversville. Formerly home to a juvenile detention facility, the site was turned over to local officials by New York State in February 2012 for economic development.
Born of Necessity
These accomplishments are even more remarkable for the climate in which they developed. During the 1980s, Fulton County had the highest unemployment rate in the State of New York and the seventh highest in the nation, exceeding 19 percent. There was no centralized economic development program. Business and government leaders realized that drastic action was needed to pull the area out of the doldrums.
Fulton County Economic Development Corporation (FCEDC) was established by the private business sector of the area to start developing a more positive future for the region.
Designed to wield the tools necessary to develop shovel-ready and state-of-the-art industrial parks, infrastructure and monies to react to the needs of business, FCEDC helped attract jobs and reinvigorate hope. In the late 1980’s, Crossroads Incubator Corporation was established to work as the real estate management arm of EDC. Working with Fulton County Industrial Development Agency, the Crossroads Industrial Park broke ground in Gloversville. By the 1990s, a beautiful rolling expanse of almost 200 acres – the Johnstown Industrial Park – was added to accommodate national corporations looking to site buildings with a large footprint. These two parks quickly filled to near capacity.
In the late 1990’s, the County began work on the Crossroads Business Park. Developed for high-tech businesses, this park contains smaller wooded lots and a hilltop with a view of the foothills of the Adirondacks.
As the development needs of the county evolved, so did the organizations that promoted them. With a growing real estate portfolio, CIC become an independent entity. It took on more challenging development projects, such as transforming a 1920’s era hotel into The Johnstown Professional Office Complex in 2001. An abandoned school in downtown Gloversville saw new life in 2007 as Estee Commons Apartment Complex.
More recently, the boards of EDC and CIC reconsidered the advantages of being a single, focussed corporation, as was originally envisioned. The FCCRG was created under a board of local business leaders committed to the betterment of the citizens of Fulton County and surrounding communities.
With a broader, more regional focus, the FCCRG will continue to provide loan funding to qualified small businesses; work with new or expanding businesses in the development of commercial property to suit their specific needs; and market the region on a national and international scale. CRG’s President and CEO is part of a regional marketing group that is working to cross county borders, bringing Fulton and Montgomery Counties together in an unprecedented way as they prepare for shared economic development success along their borders.