Educating a workforce in Fulton and Montgomery

Efforts to promote a workforce that is ready for the jobs being created in Fulton and Montgomery counties made significant progress in 2015, according to a report this week by the Fulton-Montgomery CEO Roundtable.

PTECH flourishes and expands

The Pathways in Technology Early College High School (PTECH) program, first introduced locally by the state Department of Education in 2014, served 100 students across the two counties in 2015. Students enter the PTECH program as 9th graders and work simultaneously toward earning a Regents High School Diploma and an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science from Fulton-Montgomery Community College at no cost to the student’s family.

The 4-6 year sequence emphasizes individualized pathways to completion, work place experiences, mentorship, in-depth project-based learning and real world experiences.High schools collaborate with the Fulton-Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce to provide mentors for PTECH students.

The initial PTECH programs focus on Business Management and Administration, Advanced Manufacturing (Clean Technology), Information Technology and Health Sciences.

The state has awarded HFM BOCES approval for an expansion of PTECH to focus on agricultural science, fisheries and wildlife technology. The program will partner schools with FMCC and the State University of New York at Cobleskill for AG-P-TECH, scheduled to be launched in September.

Smart Scholars

Two other programs are working to help high school students in the two counties achieve graduation and pursue pathways to specific careers.

Smart Scholars Early College High School Program is giving students in the Greater Amsterdam School District the opportunity and preparation to accelerate the completion of their high school studies while earning transferable college credits at Fulton-Montgomery Community College. The first batch of Smart Scholars graduates in 2014 went on to study at The College of St. Rose, SUNY Plattsburgh, Elmira College, Hartwick College, Manhattan College, Russell Sage College, SUNY Cobleskill, Keuka College, St. John’s University, New England College and Fulton-Montgomery.

In photo standing left to right: Smart Scholar Amsterdam High seniors attending classes at FM: Carlos Mercado, Jr., Gregory Kerrick, “JoJo” Jonardy Anil, Krysta Ortega, Jennifer Alvarez, and Marieshellie Mora; Seated left to right: Program Coordinator Effie Maglaras with seniors Marilyn Rodriguez, Gabrielle Mitchell, and Samantha Waldvogel (Missing from photo: Ilenis Quinones)

Left to right: Smart Scholar Amsterdam High seniors attending classes at FM in 2014: Carlos Mercado, Jr., Gregory Kerrick, “JoJo” Jonardy Anil, Krysta Ortega, Jennifer Alvarez, and Marieshellie Mora; Seated left to right: Program Coordinator Effie Maglaras with seniors Marilyn Rodriguez, Gabrielle Mitchell and Samantha Waldvogel (Missing from photo: Ilenis Quinones)

Pathways to Development established Freshmen Academies for Amsterdam, Gloversville and Johnstown 9th grade students. These “schools within a school” aim to ease the stresses of transition from middle school to high school.

Another education-related enhancement promoted by the CEO Roundtable in 2015 included Fulton-Montgomery Community College’s Global Village, currently in development to provide student housing, open-market apartments, housing for active mature adults, restaurants and small shops with a contemporary ‘college-town’ feel.

The CEO Roundtable was formed in 2011 by a group of business leaders in Fulton and Montgomery counties to create a business-friendly climate that will help the region retain existing businesses and attract new ones.

Why Companies Should Consider Upstate New York’s Fulton and Montgomery Counties

New York’s Fulton County and Montgomery County are truly rich in resources for business and industry. This central New York area offers unique opportunities for manufacturing, research, warehousing and distribution operations and is very attractive to companies who are reshoring operations after years of investment abroad:

  • A 21st century workforce
  • Accessibility via road to vital northeast markets
  • Port access in Albany for international transport
  • Ample water, milk and agricultural resources
  • Affordable ex-urban quality of life
  • Affordable real estate
  • Shovel-ready sites for businesses large and small

Ample Choices for Businesses Large and Small
Fulton County, NY is home to manufacturing and/or distributing operations for companies as diverse as U.S. retailers Walmart, Greek manufacturer FAGE Yogurt, Euphrates Cheese, French bottler C.G. Roxane, Spanish charcutier Pata Negra, and the global headquarters of medical device manufacturer Epimed International and pharmaceutical manufacturer Vireo Health.

FULTON COUNTY WITHIN NYSThe county currently has three shovel-ready business parks with readily available natural gas, electric, water, sewer, heavy-duty road network, direct wire to police and fire protection, close proximity to state-of-the-art landfill, and fiber optic telecommunications:

  • Crossroads Business Park offers a campus-like setting featuring modern infrastructure and natural beauty. Average acres per lot are 3.2; with custom facility construction available in sizes ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 square feet.
  • Crossroads Industrial Park features 3-acre lot average sizes and is a perfect location for manufacturing, distribution, warehousing and food processing.
  • Johnstown Industrial Park lots average 6 acres and are also ideal for manufacturing, distribution, warehousing and food processing.

Also coming on line in 2014 is the new 515-acre Tryon Technology Park on County Highway 107. Formerly home to a juvenile detention facility, New York State agreed in February 2012 to turn the site over to the Fulton County Industrial development Agency for economic development.

Positive Reviews by Site Consultant J. M. Mullis
According to J.M. Mullis CEO Michael Mullis, who has worked with Fulton and Montgomery Counties in the past and toured the region in early September 2013, this region has a lot to offer businesses looking for a great New York location. Mullis noted, “There’s not a state in the union with a more diverse workforce and more knowledge than New York. But few people realize the riches available in the Fulton and Montgomery County area.”

“When companies think about the northeast they think Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York State,” Mullin continued at a briefing following his tour. “Within New York, they usually are aware of New York City, Buffalo, Albany, and Binghamton, and nothing in between.”

According to Mullis, the region offers outstanding:

  • Transportation infrastructure. Nearby major roadways offer ready access to Montreal, New York, Boston, and points west. Also nearby are deep-water port access and a highly functional international airport.  Rail-spur options are under review.
  • Energy. Fresh water and wastewater treatment options are plentiful.
  • Permitting. The state process is very good, and local officials work collaboratively to make permitting as easy as possible.
  • Incentives. State and local economic development entities understand the importance of incentives to offset local tax burdens to businesses.
  • Quality of life. The location offers affordable housing, rural beauty, and nearby access to cultural centers like Saratoga, the Berkshires, and the Capital Region, as well as to the vast outdoor recreational resources of the Adirondack Mountains and Mohawk Valley.
  • Proximity to research technology centers like Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, CUNY, SUNY, and the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.
  • Workforce. There is ample workforce to call on in the region, and 21st century workforce readiness efforts by The CEO Roundtable and Fulton Montgomery Community College have brought advanced manufacturing and other critical training resources to the region.
  • Shovel-ready sites including three in Fulton County and one in Montgomery County.

Mullis also noted that the new Tryon site will be unique in the state. “This is one of the region’s greatest marketing assets,” he explained. “It’s the best property I’ve seen in New York State. It has the topography access, buildings, and acreage that will appeal to major companies. It’s all there, including a backup power generator, $5 million worth of barbed wire security fencing, and a road network that is amply sufficient for most companies.”

The Best Time is Now
This is a great time to invest in your company’s future in upstate New York. Contact FCCRG for information on how we can help you with:

  • Building stock and land
  • Identifying and navigating financing options
  • Providing consulting services
  • Real estate management and development
  • Marketing services

Contact Fulton County Center for Regional Growth at 518-725-7700.

Business Leaders Push for Regional Development

The CEO Roundtable plays a vital role in holding counties and municipalities accountable

Vision artBuilding a vital future for our region takes all hands on deck. That’s why, in 2011, small but vital group of Montgomery and Fulton County business leaders formed The CEO Roundtable. Their vision? To create a business-friendly climate that would help the region retain existing businesses and attract new ones.

Today the CEO Roundtable members continue to promote the vision they created in their  2011 Regional Business Plan:

“The Fulton-Montgomery County Region is a progressive community providing a friendly climate for business growth and retention, a variety of entertainment venues for social gathering, an educated and trained workforce, and a diverse housing stock to meet the needs of the different lifestyles of its residents.”

Guided today by core members Dustin Swanger, president of Fulton Montgomery Community College,; Mike Reese, president of Fulton County Center for Regional Growth; Ken Rose, director of the Montgomery County Business Development Center; Jim Mraz, Fulton County planning director; Mark Kilmer, CEO of the Fulton-Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce; and Pat Michel, district superintendent of HFM BOCES; the group continues to advance the work of 6 primary goals established in that plan.

1. Educate and train the region’s students for a 21st century workforce.

Area schools have begun implementing the new common core standards to better prepare students for college and careers. BOCES is collaborating with area districts on curriculum and to ensure access to learning opportunities. Both a technology-focused high school and Apprentice Program are underway. Technology-enabled faculty-sharing is in development among school districts. BOCES and the FM Chamber sponsored a Career Fair for eighth-grade students. And several districts are regionalizing some operations (transportation, food service, etc.) to control costs.

Additionally, as reported here in October, Fulton Montgomery Community College (FMCC) has invested heavily in technology on-campus (a new clean-room and automated manufacturing lab, high-tech patient simulators, new computers, iPads and software), launched new degree programs, and modified several programs to reflect the skills needed by area business and industry.

2. Develop large and small shovel-ready sites. Fulton County has been working with New York State to transfer ownership of Tryon Park to the Fulton County IDA, which will provide a new business and industry park, complete with infrastructure, ready for development. Montgomery County has been working to expand the Florida Park Extension in preparation for new potential industries.

3. Market the region. Both counties have been developing marketing outreach efforts singly and together. A joint effort brought site selector Michael Mullis to the region in early September to highlight the number of sites available in our region and to promote the region’s business strengths:

  • Location (proximity to major throughways and easy access to markets throughout the Northeast)
  • Available workforce
  • Affordable land
  • Year-round recreational activities
  • Low cost of living

4. Improve the region’s quality of life. Another important focus is revitalizing our downtowns. To that end, the CEO Roundtable has hosted two symposia for government and business leaders from Amsterdam, Gloversville, and Johnstown to learn, brainstorm, and begin efforts to enhance our cities.

5. Extend water, sewer, utilities, and broadband service. The CEO Roundtable strongly advocates Fulton County’s exploration of a county-wide water and sewer system, which will make the county much more attractive to new and growing businesses.

6. Lower local property tax burden in the region. Our local counties and school districts have been doing all they can to control spending without crippling services. But a region can only shrink to success for so long. The only true way to control the property tax burden is to grow the base so that costs can be spread among more residents, businesses, and industries. That is why the entire Regional Business Development Plan is focused on growth.

Concludes Dustin Swanger, a founding member of The CEO Roundtable, “The CEO Roundtable, along with others in our community, has been working hard to implement the Regional Business Development Plan. We are focused on improving our region and making it a better place to live, work, and play.”

Fulton County Community College Goes Beyond Economic Development

Inviting the future through collaborative partnerships with industry, education, and government

Fulton County Community College Clean RoomDr. Dustin Swanger, President of Fulton-Montgomery Community College (FMCC), has a vision for this region of upstate New York. It’s a vision of inclusive, economically vibrant communities working together to keep expanding opportunities for quality education, high-tech employment, and outstanding culture.

Making this vision a reality is up to all, but Swanger believes that the College, business leaders, and economic development officials must be vigorous and proactive leaders.

Swanger notes a trend across the U.S. to view economic development as part of a more encompassing effort – community development. “Community development works to enhance the economic, social, and cultural aspects that identify a region and give it a unique character,” he wrote in a recent paper, “Community Colleges: Partners in Community Development.” …. It is all of those aspects that make a community a place where people want to live and work.”

Community colleges are a relatively new type of educational institution (the first was founded in 1901), and are rapidly evolving to take a central, and often a leading role in economic and community development, noted Swanger. He believes FMCC must do all can to foster this region’s development.

Dr. Dustin Swanger, Fulton County Community College“Community colleges are doing everything from training assessments to consulting, business incubation, small business development, research, improving K-12 education, and more,” he explained.

Along with other business, government, and regional economic development entities, FMCC is actively working towards these goals. The College has already developed, or is in the process of building innovative partnerships that reach far beyond the region but bring the riches back home.

“We have to give giving young people opportunities and reasons to stay here,” he noted.

FMMC already offers 44 degree and certificate programs ranging from Business, to General Studies, to Fine Art, to Engineering and Technology. But its reach goes far beyond the modern 195-acre physical campus on the outskirts of Johnstown:

  • Certificate and Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree programs prepare graduates for employment, while Associate of Arts (A.A) and Associate of Science (A.S.) degree programs are designed to ready students for transfer to four-year programs.
  • Outreach to advanced manufacturing and semiconductor companies such as Global Foundries has led to the creation of industry-specific training programs and supporting facilities, such as FMCC’s advanced Center for Engineering and Technology, which features an advanced manufacturing laboratory and metrology-focused cleantech room.
  • Research partnerships with other higher education institutions, such as SUNY IT in Plattsburgh, to encourage business-college partnerships that also provide pathways for young people to pursue new career paths.
  • Outreach through public schools and BOCES to invite youngsters to the college to meet with local business leaders and learn about career paths.
  • Collaborative Career Learning (COCAL ), which offers specialized career training through hands-on work for local businesses combined with on-campus instruction.Fulton County Community College Energy Program
  • The Center for Energy Efficiency and Building Science, created in collaboration with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), to provide building science technology training to construction industry professionals leading to certification through the Building Performance Institute (BPI).

“As the U.S. accelerates into an economy of advanced technology and innovation, 70% of the jobs created will need at least some post-secondary education,” notes Swanger. “Manufacturing in the U.S. is, and will continue to be high-precision production in a cleanroom environment requiring a skilled workforce.”