Site Selection: New Lease on Life

Below is an excerpt from an in-depth article outlining the virtues of Tryon Technology Park for potential investors in the March 2017 edition of Site Selection magazine.

Tryon Technology Park in Upstate New York shows what can happen when a sense of purpose meets a parcel primed for adaptive redevelopment

by Adam Bruns
adam.bruns@siteselection.com

excerpt:

Fifty years after its commissioning in upstate New York’s Fulton County, the 515-acre Tryon Juvenile Detention Center campus in the Town of Perth is experiencing a complete transformation into Tryon Technology Park.

It’s just the beginning, says James Mraz, and area native who’s been Fulton County’s Planning Director for 30 years. The facility that was once the jewel of the state’s juvenile detention system was closed in 2011 as part of a system makeover by the State of New York. Its creative, adaptive reuse is a project Mraz calls the jewel of his career, and it is taking place in a county whose entire population is only about 50,000 people.

“Many towns and villages are bigger than us,” he says. But no place had a bigger motivation to turn things around. The closure meant the loss of 325 good jobs totalling about $15 million in payroll.

See the online edition of Site Selector Magazine here. Tryon article is on digital page 140.

Tryon Technology Park

Josh O’Neil, Chief Business Development Officer at Vireo Health Solutions, said Tryon Technology Park in Fulton County, NY, was ideal for his company because: “All the infrastructure was in place. That was a very big deal. It was also very affordable – on a per-acre basis, it’s one of the best values in the state. And there has been tremendous support from the town and the county. When we met with Fulton County folks, seeing their enthusiasm was a game changer. They wanted us there, and we knew they’d be good partners.”

In conversations with local leaders, Mraz suggested the closure was an opportunity. After all, the campus already had fiber-optics, natural gas, sewer and water service. It also has a 75,000-sq.-ft. building available for reuse as manufacturing, office or incubator space.

The county already had a proven track record in developing three business parks, but by 2011 their available land had dwindled, thanks to projects from companies such as Fage Yogurt, Walmart and Benjamin Moore Paints. Perth also happens to be centrally located in a triangle formed by the GLOBALFOUNDRIES semiconductor manufacturing complex in Malta, the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany and the Marcy Nano Center site in Utica.

Unique Offering

After Mraz’s team submitted a proposal, the parcel was transferred to the Fulton County Industrial Development Authority for the price of $1. The county and IDA secured $2 million in state grant funding for a new internal access road and upgraded water and sewer lines. Then the county invested another $2 million Read the rest of the article from Site Selector Magazine as a PDF

IDA, county weigh solar array project at Tryon

20-year electricity contract under discussion

Fulton County Industrial Development Agency Executive Director James Mraz reviews a solar array project at the Tryon Technology Park at the IDA board of directors meeting Thursday at the Fort  Johnstown Annex in Johnstown.(The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

Fulton County Industrial Development Agency Executive Director James Mraz reviews a solar array project at the Tryon Technology Park at the IDA board of directors meeting Thursday at the Fort Johnstown Annex in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — The Fulton County Industrial Development Agency on Thursday reviewed a proposed 2-megawatt solar array project at the Tryon Technology Park for which county government may be asked to enter into a 20-year deal.

IDA Executive Director James Mraz reminded his agency’s board of directors at the Fort Johnstown Annex that the IDA in 2016 hired Latham-based C.T. Male Associates to assess the potential of developing a solar array at Tryon. He said the engineering firm finished that report.

“The development of a solar array on a 30-acre parcel seems feasible,” Mraz said.

Mraz, also county planning director, said the solar array could be built on a tract of land behind the property of medical marijuana manufacturer Vireo Health. He said that as part of its evaluation, C.T. Male needs to verify if National Grid would allow an interconnection of a solar array into the grid at Tryon. He said C.T. Male has worked with Ameresco Inc. and brought the firm into the project.

According to its website, Ameresco is a “leading independent provider of comprehensive energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions for facilities throughout North America and the United Kingdom, delivering long-term value through innovative systems, strategies and technologies.”

Mraz said Ameresco has offered to prepare an application for National Grid.

“They put together a complicated application,” he said.

National Grid said the next step in the project is to prepare an $18,100 supplemental analysis to determine if upgrades would be needed to Tryon substation transformers, ground over voltage protection, or feeder anti-islanding protection.

Mraz said Ameresco is “very interested” in getting involved with the Tryon project. He said the firm is proposing to execute a “letter of intent” with the IDA, which owns the Tryon Technology Park property. He said Ameresco would also execute a 20-year land lease with the IDA, and build the 2-megawatt solar array.

As an electrical measurement, one megawatt equals one million watts.

Mraz said part of the proposal is to execute a 20-year power purchase agreement, or PPA, with Fulton County government in which Ameresco will sell all solar-generated electricity at Tryon to the county. Ameresco will develop, build, operate and maintain the array and obtain all permits.

Ameresco will finance the project, which may be partially funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

Mraz told the IDA board he met last week with the county Board of Supervisors’ Buildings and Grounds-Highway Committee to “introduce” to county supervisors the concept of a possible 20-year county PPA with Ameresco. He said the full board will look at the deal Monday at the County Office Building.

“What’s in it for the IDA?” asked Mraz. “It’s the land lease.”

Board Chairman Joseph Semione asked if the IDA can go with another company besides Ameresco.

Mraz said another approach would be for the IDA to pay the $18,100 supplementary analysis cost and not involve Ameresco.

“I kind of like the competitive nature of things,” said board Secretary Joseph Gillis.

The IDA board made no decisions Thursday on the solar array project.

“This is an evolving thing here,” Mraz said.

Tryon Technology Park

Fulton County, New York, introduces Tryon Technology Park, a transformative, 515-acre business opportunity in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. With Tryon’s state and local expedited approval process, you could be breaking ground on 212-acres of the lowest-priced shovel-ready land in the state in 30 to 60 days, with hundreds of additional acres available for future development.

Tryon is located in a pristine, wooded environment… where a company can thrive, take a 180 turn away from a high-cost, high-stress environment.

Fulton County Administrative Officer Jon Stead: “One thing people are starting to learn about the Tryon Technology Park is it’s right in New York’s Technology Triangle, and it’s within striking distance and easy reach of 70 million customers all around the Northeast.”

Fulton County’s Targeted Industry Analysis identified seven Industry Clusters for Tryon compatible with existing businesses and the site’s resources: Biomedical R&D, Food & Beverage, Headquarters & Business Services, Health Care Products & Services, Electronics, Renewable Energy and Software & Media.

Tryon Technology Park’s first tenant was Vireo Health, which purchased 20 acres in 2015 to manufacture pharmaceuticals from cannabis. In less than a year, it doubled the size of its facility.

Josh O’Neill, Vireo Health, Chief Business Development Officer: “When you look at the value of the land, with all the infrastructure in place, we could not find anything better in the state of New York. It’s highly accessible from I-90 and other major highways. It’s got great infrastructure. There’s new water and sewer, gas, three-phase power and a new county road that’s well-maintained year-round.”

Jim Mraz, Fulton County Planning Director and Executive Director, Fulton County Industrial Development Agency:
“The property at Tryon is also very affordable. At a $20,000 per an acre price, it is the lowest price per acre of comparable land anywhere in the region.”

The origins of Tryon are a unique story of cooperation by state and local governments. When the state closed the Tryon Juvenile Detention Facility in 2011, it was an economic blow to Fulton County.

In an effort to turn that negative into a positive, Fulton County officials petitioned the state for control of the property. Two years later, Tryon was deeded over to the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency for redevelopment as a technology park.

Josh O’Neill, Vireo Health, Chief Business Development Officer: “It’s a beautiful place. A really great community. I feel like Fulton County as a whole has been very welcoming to our business and the people who have moved here from other states, they’ve found it to be a really high quality of life. They’ve found good, affordable housing. The feedback on the schools has been very positive. We’ve got a lot of young families on our team and for them to locate to Fulton County from other states was a big step for them and it’s been an extremely positive experience.”

At the center of the park is the Tryon Regional Business Training and Incubator Center, adding training, classroom, office and workshop space for businesses to utilize. Tryon also has the benefit of being geographically close to its partner in training and workforce development, Fulton-Montgomery Community College.

Dr. Dustin Swanger, President, Fulton-Montgomery Community College: “FM has a long history of strong workforce development programs and customizing programs for local businesses, like Benjamin Moore and Townsend Leather.”

Tim Beckett, senior vice president, Townsend Leather:
“We continually rely on them for training, customized classes, and working with our people to help further our staff in growth here in the area.
Fulton County as a whole, any time we’ve needed anything, in terms of economic growth or sustaining our workforce or bringing in new business, they’ve been a good person to rely on and go to for grants, money, even locations and building and equipment.”

Fulton County hosts a vibrant array of biomedical manufacturers, global food processors and light manufacturing companies in three existing business parks. Adding Tryon to that portfolio creates unparalleled advantages for companies searching for an inviting, centrally located home with plug and play infrastructure.

Contact us today to find out more about Tryon Technology Park.
Fulton County New York – Positive.

Fulton County working to rebuild local economy: Times Union

Officials market low costs, infrastructure to attract companies, people

 By Robert Downen, Originally published in the Albany Times Union

In their quest to reverse economic downturn, Fulton County officials are focusing on three words: Live, work and play.

By 2026, they hope their county will attract residents who want to do all three.

Once the epicenter of the upstate leather industry centered in Gloversville, Fulton County has steadily watched economic opportunities dwindle as niche manufacturing jobs go overseas.

Since 1970, the number of people directly and indirectly employed in the leather trades has dropped from 10,000 to 400, the U.S. Department of Labor said.

“These businesses employed towns,” Johnny Evers, director of government affairs at the Business Council of New York State, said at a seminar on Fulton County economic development Tuesday,

Now — and hopefully, with buy-in from local business leaders and elected officials — county officials are hoping they can transform the area into a hotbed of growth by attracting businesses and young people alike.

Boosters believe they have the resources both in infrastructure and human capital. The question is how to get people to use them.

The pitch is simple: Cheap cost of living, coupled with the factory buildings left over from the heyday of manufacturing, should make Fulton County immediately attractive to those seeking metropolitan amenities at a discounted rate.

“Upstate New York is a beautiful place to explore and enjoy, but in many areas the cost of living can be too high,” Jim Mraz, Fulton County planning director, said in August. “In Fulton County, that’s not the case, and that’s something we’re proud of.”

Add in a low crime rate, a new focus on regional partnerships and the county’s location in the middle of myriad nature destinations, and officials are confident they “can establish Fulton County as one of the Capital Region’s premier economic and residential destinations,” said Charles Potter, chairman of the Fulton County Board of Supervisors.

Since undertaking the development initiative called Jump Start Fulton County in 2014, officials have focused heavily on luring new businesses and young workers to shovel-ready sites.

Fulton and Montgomery counties at that time brought in Mike Mullis, a corporate site selector, to assess the region’s ability to attract large corporations. Mullis identified seven clusters on which the counties should focus, with biomedical research and development, food and beverage services and health care products among them.

By reorienting towards such high-tech sectors, officials hope they can use their location in the middle of what they’re calling the “Tech Triangle” of New York as a selling point. (Both Utica and the Capital Region tout significant biotechnology sectors, and Albany was rated last week as the most friendly place to do business in New York by Forbes).

A cornerstone of that strategy is the Tryon Technology Park in Perth. The 515-acre park, once occupied by the now-shuttered Tryon Detention Center, has been the focus of the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency. Last year it moved in its first tenant, medical marijuana company Vireo Health.

“In the greater Capital Region, there’s a tremendous amount of human capital,” Vireo CEO Ari Hoffnung said in September. “There’s a lot of talent.

“We want to bring back more (than the 325 jobs) that were lost (at Tryon).”

County officials are also banking on growing agricultural industries statewide.

Since 2000, gross domestic product from upstate New York’s dairy sector has increased by more than 38 percent, to more than $600 million, according to the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth.

In this region alone, international yogurt makers Fage and Chobani have created more than 1,650 jobs, making New York the No. 1 yogurt manufacturing state in the country.

rdownen@timesunion.com • 518-454-5018 • @Robert_Downen

Big plans for Tryon Technology Park

Fulton County officials have big plans for Tryon Technology Park

Fulton County marketing Tryon Technology Park

September 22, 2016

PERTH – The 515-acre Tryon Technology Park is in its infancy, but Fulton County officials have big plans for its future.

County Planning Director James Mraz on Wednesday led area media on a tour of the County Highway 107 facility, which used to be the state’s Tryon Youth Detention Facility. Now, as Mraz explained, the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency has taken ownership and is working closely with county government to create developable land and prepare the park for businesses.

“We are currently actively marketing Tryon,” Mraz said.

Fulton County Planning Director James Mraz shows a building that will be reused at the Tryon Technology Park during a tour Wednesday. The Midas-sponsored shop serviced vehicles at the state’s former Tryon youth detention center. The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich

Fulton County Planning Director James Mraz shows a building that will be reused at the Tryon Technology Park during a tour Wednesday. The Midas-sponsored shop serviced vehicles at the state’s former Tryon youth detention center. The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich

Officials say they hope the Tryon Technology Park becomes a new home for high-tech companies.

The Tryon facility and its future growth is part of a larger Fulton County economic development strategy aimed at bringing more jobs into the area to reduce the local property tax burden.

Mraz, also the IDA’s executive director, said the Fulton County Demolition Team this summer took down an old building on the Tryon campus and is now razing five more for the creation of more than 100 acres of prime developable land.

“That work is ongoing,” he said.

The overall Tryon plan is to at least replace jobs lost when the youth detention facility closed in 2011.

“We’re off to that start,” Mraz said of new job creation.

The technology park currently has one tenant – medical marijuana manufacturer Vireo Health. The company has 20 employees.

Various sections of the park will be divided into pockets of what Mraz calls “shovel-ready land.” There are 51.5 acres of such land off the park’s newly created County Highway 117, another 118 acres of land will be shovel-ready in an area to the east of the park bordered by County Highways 107 and 158, and another 44 acres is planned to the northwest.

Many of the project sites among 260 acres will be around a loop in the center of the park.

A future development area of 57 acres is being studied for the northern part of the park.

The park already has water and sewer services, and a regional business training and incubator center is planned for an existing building.

Mraz said that after the IDA took ownership of Tryon in 2014, officials immediately concerned themselves with job creation.

The IDA also owns 30 acres across the road from the park entrance.

“We’re also willing to look at these other properties as commercial developments,” Mraz said. “That’s the vision.”

He said many ideas for job creation spun from a September 2013 two-day visit by international site selector Michael Mullis to Fulton and Montgomery counties. New Jersey-based DCG Corplan Consulting has also done a marketing plan and analysis for Tryon that identified clusters of potential jobs.

County officials are also working with engineering firm C.T. Male to reuse existing space at the Tryon campus. Money is available to bring the regional business training and incubator center to fruition through $185,000 in federal Northern Borders Regional Commission grant money, $50,000 from 2016 county budget funds, and $65,000 through the IDA.

The hope, Mraz says, is to eventually create jobs through big or small companies. He said Fulton County will find a way to accommodate companies now at Tryon if it has to.

Buildings at Tryon were built in the 1960s and 1970s. Some are structurally sound and some aren’t. Officials are looking at the former Midas building at Tryon for providing 16,000 square feet for start-up companies.

“This building is perfectly set up for this,” Mraz said.

The Midas-sponsored auto shop serviced vehicles at the state’s former detention facility.

Michael Anich can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

International site selectors find out about Tryon site

Fulton County Center for Regional Growth CEO Ronald Peters has returned from a meeting in Tennessee with site selectors from across the country where he promoted the opportunities available at Tryon Technology Park.

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan  FCCRG President Ron Peters

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
FCCRG President Ron Peters

The Site Selectors Guild’s Annual Conference held in Nashville from Wednesday to Friday was a prime networking opportunity for FCCRG and Peters. Getting the Tryon Technology Park on the radar of so many influential consultants means that information about the site will be communicated to corporations across the world.

Peters said delivered brochures, as well as the message that New York state is “embracing” businesses that wish to come here. He also met again with Michael Mullis, a site selector who visited Fulton County in 2013 and has had positive things to say about the potential of the Tryon site.

FCCRG’s Peters said he’s trying to arrange a tour of Tryon for other members of the Site Selectors Guild. “They have a forum and potentially could come back,” he said. “The word’s getting out there.”

The 500-acre site, mostly in the Town of Perth, is owned by the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency. Fulton County is assisting in development and FCCRG is marketing the project. The flagship tenant, Vireo Health of New York LLC, began production at the site this summer of pharmaceutical cannabis under a special license from New York State.

Peters also plans to attend the next forum of the Industrial Asset Management Council from March 12 through 16 in New Orleans.

The Secrets of Tryon

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Yogurt plant’s wastewater helps power electrical grid

Maintenance supervisor James McMillan checks a waste water to energy generator at the Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility Thursday Oct. 8, 2015 in Johnstown, NY. (John Carl D'Annibale / Times Union)

Maintenance supervisor James McMillan checks a waste water to energy generator at the Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility Thursday Oct. 8, 2015 in Johnstown, NY. (John Carl D’Annibale / Times Union)

Yogurt plant’s wastewater helps power electrical grid

Fage provides a cultured energy resource

County awards $1.8M in bids for Tryon Technology Park

County OKs bids for Tryon work

Park’s second construction phase planned

Originally published in the Leader Herald August 11, 2015
Reprinted by permission. Read Story on Leader Herald’s Website

By MICHAEL ANICH , Leader Herald

JOHNSTOWN – The Fulton County Board of Supervisors on Monday awarded more than $1.8 million in contracts for the second construction phase of the Tryon Technology Park project.

Action by the board followed recommendations Monday by the board’s Finance Committee, which discussed the next phase of the project in detail.

“The construction time for this [part of the] project is 330 days,” county Planning Director James Mraz told the committee.

A portion of the project is being offset by a $180,000 Empire State Development Corp. grant.

The county, as well as the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency – owner of the 515-acre Tryon site in the towns of Perth and Johnstown – are converting the park into parcels for commercial development. The park’s first tenant is Empire State Health Solutions, which is occupying a 20-acre piece of Tryon to manufacture medical marijuana.

The county originally received a $2 million grant from the Empire State Development Corp. to pay for the first phase, which included 2,500 feet of new road, 3,500 feet of new water line and 600 feet of new sanitary sewer line.

The second phase of Tryon work includes disconnecting the waterline servicing Tryon from the elevated water storage tank at the state’s Hale Creek Correctional Facility, constructing a new water-pumping station at Tryon, constructing a new 300,000-gallon elevated water storage tank at Tryon, and dismantling an existing ground-mounted water storage tank.

“It’s more expensive to use the existing tank than get a new one,” Mraz said.

Supervisors on Monday awarded a $1.78 million bid to W.M. Schultz Construction of Ballston Spa for the second phase infrastructure improvements at Tryon. Costs of overall construction will actually increase to about $2 million, with such costs as contingency allowances. The county fund balance will be appropriated for the project.

County Budget Director Alice Kuntzsch told supervisors the county has to use the fund balance, and not 2016 capital plan funding, for the second phase because state law says such contracts need an obligation and not a future set-aside.

“You have to obligate that money,” Kuntzsch said. “You need to put that money behind it.”

The board also authorized a $60,720 agreement with C.T. Male Associates of Latham for construction inspection services for the project.

Engineers from C.T. Male Associates originally estimated the second phase of Tryon construction would cost about $1 million, although the low bid came in much higher, at nearly $1.8 million.

Finance Committee members asked C.T. Male engineer Chad Kortz what happened with the estimate. He said the tank manufacturer came in with prices higher than expected, in part because the price of steel is high.

“We usually don’t have that problem,” Kortz said.

Supervisors also passed a resolution “congratulating” Empire State Health Solutions on its recent successful licensing from the state Department of Health.

“ESHS’s new pharmaceutical manufacturing facility is the first business to locate at the Tryon Technology Park as it launches this new technology to benefit patients across the state,” the resolution read. “The occasion of this successful licensure initiates a new partnership between county government, the Fulton County IDA and Empire State Health Solutions to foster its one-of-a-kind medical model that provides the safest medications to the patients of New York.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

WAMC: Fulton County Officials Hope Medical Marijuana Will Jumpstart Tryon Site

Fulton County Officials Hope Medical Marijuana Will Jumpstart Tryon Site

Originally Broadcast on WAMC NorthEast Public Radio

By LUCAS WILLARD

Listen to the report on WAMC’s Website

The economy of rural Fulton County, New York has struggled for years, but with a new medical marijuana cultivation center on the way, officials are hoping New York’s burgeoning biomedical industry will help draw new business to the region.

 On the last day of July, five of 43 applicants were awarded licenses by the New York State Department of Health to cultivate, process, and distribute medical marijuana. Company Empire State Health Solutions is working to begin distributing the drug from its Fulton County facility.

Chief Operating Officer Michael Newel told WAMC that the site in the Mohawk Valley was chosen for its central location and proximity to major roadways.

 “Having grown up in Galway and Amsterdam, I was well aware of the unemployment rate in Fulton and Montgomery County and starting thinking that was pretty centrally located and was there a place where we could site the facility there. And as I started looking at that the Tryon Technology Park popped up.”

 The Tryon Technology Park was converted from a state operated juvenile correctional facility. Empire State Development transferred the property to the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency in 2012.

 Jim Mraz, Executive Director of IDA and Fulton County Planner, is excited for the Perth facility’s first tenant.

“We’re hoping this is the start of something big and will be something great for this region if we can replace all of the jobs that were lost when that facility closed,” said Mraz.

 At its peak, the Tryon Residential Center employed 350 before closing. Empire State Health Solutions anticipates creating at least 75 full-time jobs.

 While electric, gas, water, sewer, and fiber-optic internet were already available at the site, over the last year the county and IDA have made a few improvements including a new access road and rerouted sewer and water lines.

 Mraz said Fulton County commissioned a study for the best industrial uses at the Tryon site.

 “And the number one cluster is bio-medical research and development. Empire State Health Solutions proposed pharmaceutical manufacturing facility is a perfect fit.”

 And officials hope the company will jumpstart the 500-acre Tryon site and bring in more tenants. Ron Peters is President and CEO of the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth.

 “By bringing in this group we can go out and try to attract other similar bio-med groups. I think it’s going to change the landscape of Tryon Technology Park,” said Peters.

 Peters also praised the site’s rural setting and central location.

 “Close proximity to Saratoga, very close proximity to Albany, and its close proximity to all sites north and west.”

 Empire State Health Solutions will distribute medical marijuana to Broome, Albany, Westchester and Queens counties.

 Elsewhere in our region, Etain LLC will manufacture in Warren County and dispense in Albany, Ulster, Westchester, and Onondaga counties. PharmaCann will operate out of Orange County and distribute the in the Bronx, Erie, Onondaga and Albany counties.

 Columbia Care NY will dispense the drug in Clinton County.

 For a full list of companies and locations visit: http://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/application/selected_applicants.htm