Fulton County studying need for hotel development

JOHNSTOWN – A Chicago firm has been hired by the Fulton County Board of Supervisors to study the feasibility of additional hotel development in the Mohawk Valley county.

Holiday Inn Gloversville/Johnstown

The lobby of the Holiday Inn of Gloversville/Johnstown, one of Fulton County’s existing hotels.

Fulton County officials received five proposals for the study and on August 14 the Board of Supervisors hired Hunden Strategic Partners of Chicago at a cost of $19,500, according to County Planning Director James Mraz.

Funding for the agreement comes from a marketing project funded in the 2017 county capital budget.

Expanding business and tourist accommodation was one of the priorities voiced during Fulton County’s Vision 2026 Summit last October, in which 90 community leaders, elected officials, business leaders and members of the general public worked together to achieve a vision statement for Fulton County.

Hunden is charged with studying data and making site visits to assess the market demand and feasibility of an additional hotel or motel. The unbiased data and conclusions in the final report, expected in 2018, will become tools for local economic development officials to target and promote private development.hunden strategic partners logo

The target area for the study is an area from the Vail Mills Development Area along the southern and western edges of the Great Sacandaga Lake to the Village of Northville.

 

For further information, contact

James E. Mraz
Planning Director
Fulton County Planning Department
1 E. Montgomery St.
Johnstown, New York 12095
518-736-5660
518-762-4597 (fax)
jmraz@fultoncountyny.gov

 

 

TU: Fulton County shows off business park, medical marijuana tenant

If your business is anything like a medical marijuana facility, economic developers in Fulton County want you to know they have a perfect location for it.

You don’t have to be making medicines from plants that were until recently illegal to grow. Fulton County officials are looking for businesses that need lots of affordable space in a secure, remote location with access to a workforce that has a wide range of education and skills. That’s what Vireo Health of New York, one of five medical marijuana companies operating in the state, got when it moved into the 213-acre Tryon Technology Park two years ago.

“Fulton County has been a terrific partner for us,” Vireo Chief Executive Ari Hoffnung said Wednesday at a county event pitching the site of a former state juvenile detention center to a couple dozen real estate brokers.

“It’s a perfect fit,” Fulton County Planning Director James Mraz said of Vireo’s location.

As the unique business park’s only tenant, Vireo was a natural selling point. Real estate brokers got a rare tour of the strictly regulated facility.

They got to see an outdoor greenhouse and indoor grow rooms where horticulturists carefully control the light and temperature of plants whose oils are extracted for medicines to treat 11 debilitating conditions approved by the state.  They got to peek into the laboratory where the medicines are made, in different formulations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a mind-altering ingredient, and cannabidiol (CBD), which has no psychoactive properties.

 Yet as an example of a thriving business, Vireo isn’t there yet. Hoffnung told county officials and real estate brokers that the firm has invested about $10 million in the operation, including 20 acres of land. But like the other four medical marijuana companies in New York, it has yet to break even.

That’s despite a huge boost — an increase in volume of more than 50 percent, according to Vireo Operations Director Nick Goran — since the state added chronic pain to its list of qualifying conditions less than three months ago. One impediment to growth, company officials said, is that too few doctors are registering to certify patients for medical marijuana. According to the state Health Department, 1,058 medical providers were registered as of last week.

The business park landed Vireo as a client without much work, Mraz said. The company found the park as the county was engaged in getting the facility ready to market, Mraz said.

Mraz raised an eyebrow when he told about first hearing of interest from a potential tenant that wanted to grow marijuana. But then he learned more about Vireo’s plans. “Ah, you’re a pharmaceutical company,” he said.

WRGB sees growth potential for Fulton County

They’re both headquartered in our area.

The center of Fulton County is about 45 miles from Albany, and with two successful businesses operating there, right now county leaders are hoping to attract even more companies.

Vireo Health CEO Ari Hoffnung was born and raised in New York City, but he decided to manufacture medical marijuana in the quiet countryside of Johnstown.

“Got a great deal on 20 acres and now we have enough space our business can grow into,” Hoffnung said.

Security is extremely important for a medical marijuana operation, which is why Hoffnung says this was a prime location, an old youth corrections facility.

The old inmate living quarters now house the plants used to make kosher forms of the state-regulated drug.

Hoffnung says he saw an opportunity to bring the old Tryon Juvenile Prison buildings back to life, and put Fulton County residents back to work.

“Hundreds of jobs were lost and being able to bring jobs back was extraordinarily important,” Hoffnung said.

But now Hoffnung is looking for neighbors on the prison property, which has been transformed into the Tryon Technology Park, several hundred acres of shovel-ready space.

“We would welcome biotech companies we would welcome medical device companies it’s a great place to do business,” Hoffnung said.

County Planning Director Jim Mraz says the county’s been working to prepare the land in two nearby areas, Hales Mills and Vail Mills, for anticipated residential growth.

“We’re looking at upwards of 900 housing units county-wide in demand,” Mraz said.

They’re hoping the success of Fage yogurt, headquartered just eight miles from the medical marijuana site, will also help businesses look their way.

“We’re so proud they’re here, and we’d like to see more companies like that,” Mraz said.

County leaders say one of their biggest challenges is changing perception. Because the county is mostly rural, leaders say folks tend to think it’s hours away from the Capital Region, but the drive to Johnstown about 40 minutes from Schenectady.

by Anne McCloy, WRGB 6News Albany

Wednesday, June 21st 2017

Business to expand into Diana Knit site

The former Diana Knitting Mill off North Perry and Grove streets in Johnstown is being groomed for Townsend Leather's expansion. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

The former Diana Knitting Mill off North Perry and Grove streets in Johnstown is being groomed for Townsend Leather’s expansion. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich

MIKE ANICH
Reporter
manich@leaderherald.com
Originally published in The Leader-Herald, May 3, 2017

JOHNSTOWN — Townsend Leather plans to expand into the former, vacant Diana Knitting Mill complex at North Perry and Grove streets, eventually creating more than 50 new jobs to start.

The renewal and manufacturing project was unveiled by Townsend representative Stitchery Realty LLC to the city Planning Board Tuesday at City Hall.

“We’ve been looking at floor space throughout the city,” Tim Beckett of Stitchery told the board.

He said Townsend could have looked elsewhere, but decided to stay in the city of Johnstown.

Townsend Leather on Townsend Avenue, which dyes and produces leather goods for vendors throughout the world, has been in business since 1969.

The former Diana Knitting Mill at 229 N. Perry St. is a three-parcel, multi-building connected complex that has been empty for more than 15 years.

The complex includes a 66,000-square-foot building, of which 47,000 square feet is a three-story, former knitting mill; and a 19,000-square-foot, two-story addition built in 1988 with conveyer system.

Beckett said Townsend is seeking a new business operating permit for the mill area. Zoning in that part of Johnstown is currently classified as commercial. There are no zoning issues. He said the eventual Townsend operation would include manufacturing equipment, dry drums and a leather buffing machine. He said one side of the complex would hire up to 12 people to start and the brick side of the plant facing Grove Street would involve about 40 employees to start.

But Beckett cautioned that much work has to be done to the building and the new Townsend operation may not come to fruition for a year to two years.

According to an informational letter from Stitchery Realty LLC to the planning board, Townsend is under contract to purchase the former mill.

“The contract is contingent on structural, environmental and zoning approval for industrial manufacturing at the site,” the Stitchery letter states.

The letter notes the existing parcels need to be changed, altered or granted a variance prior to purchase.

“We have an agreement with [Townsend] to lease one-third of the building with an option to take half of the space should we have manufacturing on these parcels,” the letter says. “The local manufacturer’s production will be inclusive of the building. There would be no external exhaust or wastewater additions to the building nor would they be emitting any particles. The lease and purchase of this building are dependent upon manufacturing at the [former] Diana Mill.”

The letter says the plan is not to “alter the existing footprint” of the building.

“Construction on the building will be to focus on getting it back up to code and capable of leasing out,” the letter states. “There are a few small out buildings on the southwest section of the Grove Street building parcel. These buildings were to house old boilers, which may need to come down as the roofs are in disrepair. The remainder of the building will be planned for future rental space for startup manufacturers, potential office space and even some co-working offices with shared services. These would be developed after the first phase of construction is complete and the building is up to code to be leased out.”

“Parking is a tough scenario for us,” Beckett said.

But he said his firm has been in touch with nearby JAVAC, to possibly use some of its parking spaces.

Beckett said a two-year plan for the complex is to take out some trees around the building and windows will be replaced.

The board voted to hold a public hearing on the project for 4 p.m. June 6 at City Hall. The board also voted itself lead agency for the state Environmental Quality Review process that is required.

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

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.

CRG talks could lead to more Fulton County jobs

One local manufacturer could add 50 new Fulton County jobs

Insight into CRG operations was part of the agency’s monthly activities report given last week to the Fulton County supervisors.

CRG President and CEO Ronald Peters said the CRG received an inquiry from a “potential start-up” knitting operation located in the New York City area.

He said Tuesday he hasn’t heard back from the company and he’s not sure where it will settle.

Peters also alluded to other recent CRG business marketing efforts. He said the agency is working with an unidentified “local manufacturer” that created 10 new jobs last month and wants to expand further. He said he brought in a state Economic Development Corp. representative to start exploring an opportunity for the state to offer a financing package to the county.

“I’m still working with the state on that package,” Peters said.

He said there is a possibility this could be a “regionally-significant project” with 50 or more jobs.

Peters reported he met with a former small local manufacturer about potentially starting up again.

He said the CRG also received an out-of-state inquiry that was passed on to an unnamed local manufacturer.

The CRG worked with an engineering firm and submitted a $300,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant application for the city of Gloversville.

Peters said he met with Northville Mayor John Spaeth, Northampton Supervisor James Groff and a potential Main Street Program applicant about a possible project in Northville.

The CRG’s 2013-15 Microenterprise Grant generated 19 jobs among small businesses in the county, Peters said. The state has granted the CRG an extension to the end of 2017 so approved applicants can complete job requirements.

Peters said the 2016 Microenterprise Grant program recently gave out its first grant to Gloversville-based Frozen Parts Inc. The company fabricates and assembles more than 500 of the most asked-for parts, its website says.

The CRG’s County Loan Pool still has several applications out in various stages, Peters said. He said he recently met with more potential applicants.

Peters said the CRG continues to work with Saratoga Springs-based marketing agency Shannon Rose, which updates the CRG website. The firm is also managing the CRG’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Working with the county’s lead-generating firm, Peters said the CRG made “several” calls to companies explaining the benefits of locating in Fulton County.

The CRG also participated in a similar Qualified Lead Generating Initiative with New York state. Peters said the CRG had three conference calls with a company looking at potentially moving to the state.

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

Fulton County, New York – Positive

You have one life.
Don’t spend it on someone else’s dream.
You have the fire. You have the potential.
You will rise to the challenge.

Fulton County believes in you.
This is your new frontier
The place where your side hustle becomes the next big thing.

We are positive.

We are ready for you now.
Fulton County has the plan and the infrastructure,
the untapped resources,
and affordable architectural treasures to start your imagination as well as your business.

Fulton County welcomes the risk takers
the visionary creators
the artisans
the passionate entrepreneurs.
We honor bold ideas and unconventional thinking.
We offer you inspiring vistas
44 lakes,
a sense of community
and places you can afford to call your own.
This is where you start.
This is positively your time.
This is positively your place.
This is YOUR Fulton County.
Fulton County, New York
Positive

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