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

Epimed buys Johnstown building for $1.24M

Epimed International manufactures medical devices and is the anchor tenant in Crossroads Business Park in Johnstown, NY

Epimed International manufactures medical devices and is the anchor tenant in Crossroads Business Park in Johnstown, NY

 JOHNSTOWN – Epimed International Inc., which develops, designs, manufactures and distributes medical devices, has purchased the building that has been its corporate headquarters at the Crossroads Business Park since 1982.

 The building was originally owned by the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency, which served as Epimed’s landlord for 30 years. In 2012, the IDA sold the building to STAG Industrial, a real estate investment firm based in Boston, which lists among its rent-producing industrial properties at least eight sites in Gloversville and Johnstown.

Epimed International manufactures medical devices in Fulton County, NY A deed dated June 21, 2016, filed with the Fulton County Clerk’s Office lists the purchase price at $1.24 million. Epimed, which keeps executive offices in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, is the business park’s anchor tenant, employing more than 80 people. It specializes in interventional pain management, providing devices such as radiation safety equipment, catheters, needles, trays and kits, models and stimulation equipment to the global market.

 

Leader Herald: Lead on new company for Tryon

Fulton County Center for Regional Growth has lead on potential company for new Tryon Technology Park

Lead on potential company: CRG official

June 28, 2016

GLOVERSVILLE – The Fulton County Center for Regional Growth has a good lead on a potential company for the new Tryon Technology Park, an official said.

CRG President and CEO Ron Peters provided scant details at his agency’s board meeting Friday at the CRG office.

When the CRG is pursuing business prospects, few details are made public until the deal is final.

During a report on a “combined county marketing effort,” Peters said the CRG participated in a conference call involving a “qualified lead” for a potential company.

“It went well,” Peters said.

He said the new Tryon Technology Park in Perth may be the proper site if the company wants to move to Fulton County.

Peters also mentioned during the “business marketing inquiries” portion of the meeting that the CRG received a “solid” inquiry through the state. But it was unclear whether he was talking about the same company.

“It could be a regionally significant project,” Peters said.

He said a California company is looking to start up in either Fulton or Montgomery counties.

Peters said the CRG last year participated in about half of 110 economic development conference calls conducted by the state. He said it is a “good system” and the CRG was recently given three proposals by the state identifying “possible leads” for companies.

“There’s work to be done,” Peters said.

He said companies are seeking 250,000 square feet of space with expansion potential. He said companies want buildings with high bays.

“They’re usually looking for existing [facilities], and to retrofit that,” Peters said.

Peters said the CRG has a good handle on its inventory of potential buildings. He said the biggest existing buildings the county has are about 150,000 square feet. He said a lot of companies are looking to move into the New York City market.

Fulton County Industrial Development Agency Executive Director James Mraz said the Tryon park in the towns of Perth and Johnstown will create an opportunity for a business “willing to build.”

“We will now have that place to put them,” Mraz said.

Peters said the current cost for a pre-engineered building is about $80 to $100 per square-foot. He said economic development agencies are receiving “mixed calls” from potential businesses, from Florida up the east coast. He said there are still some “hardcore manufacturers” looking for sites.

Gloversville 3rd Ward Supervisor John Blackmon, county liaison to the CRG, said some buildings of the future may be occupied by only 3D printers.

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

Signs of progress at Tryon Park

New sign at Tryon Technology park main entrance. Tryon Technology Park turned a fresh face to the community with a solar-powered sign for the main entrance based on the county’s new marketing theme, Fulton County…Positive.

Demolition work also began this week at the 515-acre park. The Fulton County Demolition Team is removing six cottages and administrative buildings left over from when the land hosted a youth detention facility. Funding for the work is coming through Fulton County, and the demolition debris is being hauled to the county landfill.Night view of solar-powered entrance sign for Tryon Technology Park.

Demolition at Tryon Technology Park

The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich
The Fulton County Demolition Team on Tuesday works on taking down the first of six former youth detention buildings at the Tryon Technology Park in Perth to make way for new shovel-ready business sites.

When the work is complete, the Empire State Development Corp. will provide the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency with a certificate declaring the area to be shovel ready, and the sites will go into a state database that promotes available properties to site selectors.

New York State transferred the former Tryon Detention Facility property to the IDA for redevelopment as a business park. The county has secured its first tenant, medical marijuana manufacturer Vireo Health of New York.

The NYT: Johnstown’s kosher cannabis makes national news

drying cannabis in Johnstown

At Vireo Health of New York’s plant in Johnstown, N.Y., Emily Errico, a cultivation technician, explaining the process of drying marijuana. Credit: JR Delia for The New York Times

BUSINESS DAY

The Rabbis Are Here to Inspect the (Legal) Weed

They had arrived here at Vireo Health of New York’s plant, about an hour northwest of Albany, looking for evidence that the company’s products merited kosher certification. They would eventually give their approval, but not before asking some tough questions, beginning in the room where row after row of plants hung upside down to dry.

“This is where they start getting worried,” recalled Ari Hoffnung, the company’s chief executive, because the kosher rules they were most focused on apply after a plant is dried.

As legalization of medical marijuana has hopscotched the nation, entrepreneurs have become nothing if not imaginative: Marijuana lotions, gluten-free edibles and many other niche products have hit the market. Businesses have also found resourceful ways to deal with a patchwork of taxation, banking and interstate commerce issues.

Little about the fledgling industry, then, comes as a surprise. But kosher pot?

Well, business is business, whether it’s widgets or weed, and any bit of competitive advantage is welcome.

“You’re seeing companies looking for creative ways to distinguish themselves, but also just interesting ways to appeal to different types of consumers,” said Taylor West, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association.

Vireo’s plant here looks like a prison and smells like a dorm. It used to be the site of the Tryon Residential Center, a state-run facility for troubled youths that closed several years ago. The irony is not lost on Mr. Hoffnung or his workers.

Vireo Health Solutions medical marijuana products in Johnstown, NY

The final result: a bottle with a tiny kosher symbol. Credit: JR Delia for The New York Times

As he walked by old classrooms where hundreds of marijuana plants now grow, Mr. Hoffnung explained that the rabbis had mostly cared about what happened toward the end of the manufacturing process, which is why the drying plants had raised eyebrows. What chemicals did Vireo use to extract the cannabis oil, the rabbis had needed to know. What kind of capsules did they use?

Smoking marijuana by itself isn’t an issue — at least not from a kosher dietary standpoint — since the rules are intended for food and drinks. Products ingested in some way, on the other hand, are another story.

Ingredients must not come into contact with forbidden foods, like pigs or insects, and the restrictions extend all the way down the supply chain.

Every ingredient in a marijuana brownie, for example, needs to be kosher. The leaves, if eaten, would need to come from a bug-free plant. Marijuana gelcaps cannot be made out of pig gelatin. There are also rules for the equipment that processes kosher food. Vireo’s products that have been certified by the Orthodox Union can have the recognizable “OU” stamp on their packaging, and must submit to periodic inspections from the group’s rabbis.

“We literally took them through every square inch of the facility,” said David Ellis, the executive vice president of operations at Cresco Labs. The Chicago Rabbinical Council visited Cresco in March and said it was in the final stages of issuing a kosher certification that will cover everything from chocolate bars to concentrates.

Lifesaving medical treatment is an exception to kosher rules. A cancer drug made out of bacon-wrapped crickets, for example, would be fine. But while many patients use medical marijuana to treat the symptoms of serious illnesses, cannabis products are often not considered curative.

The products, almost certain to have a niche market, will be joining a booming industry. Legal sales of marijuana are expected to rise to $5.7 billion this year, up from $4.4 billion last year, according to a report from Ackrell Capital, a boutique investment bank. The recreational use of marijuana is legal in four states plus the District of Columbia, while medical marijuana is allowed in 19 more.

Mr. Hoffnung, 42, is quick to say that he is not a cannabis enthusiast and wants nothing to do with the recreational marijuana industry. He says that he considers Vireo, one of five companies licensed to sell medical marijuana products in New York, a pharmaceutical company.

Hydroponic growing area in medical marijuana plant in Johnstown, NY

Emily Errico checking a marijuana plant in the hydroponic growing area. Credit: JR Delia for The New York Times

Dressed in a dark blue blazer and white button-down shirt, he looks like the Wall Street executive that he used to be, having spent nearly a decade at firms including JPMorgan Chase. After Wall Street, Mr. Hoffnung served as a deputy comptroller for New York City. Part of his job involved analyzing the fiscal implications of medical marijuana.

“Just studying it with a group of economists and sophisticated financial analysts led me to believe wow, this is a multibillion-dollar market,” Mr. Hoffnung said.

The industry still faces a number of challenges, because the federal government considers marijuana an illegal drug. Many banks refuse to work with companies in the cannabis business, leading to stories about trunks full of cash and covert money transfers. And these companies cannot take advantage of some of the tax breaks intended for small businesses.

Vireo spent thousands of dollars on its kosher certification — Mr. Hoffnung declined to say just how much, because he sees it as one small step along medical marijuana’s march toward mainstream acceptance. The endorsement from a rabbinical organization, he hopes, will help the products appeal to a broader swath of consumers.

“There’s no question,” he said, “that the number of patients that desire kosher products, coupled with battling the stigma associated with medical marijuana, made this a wise economic investment.”

Representatives of the Orthodox Union and the Chicago Rabbinical Council, which inspected Cresco, said that the idea of kosher medical marijuana had stirred much internal debate, and that they would certify only medical marijuana and not products intended for the recreational market.

Deciding to go forward with the certification process “wasn’t an easy decision,” said Rabbi Moshe Elefant, the chief operating officer at the Orthodox Union’s kosher division.

But Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, the administrator of kosher laws for the Chicago Rabbinical Council, said he now expected to get more calls.

“What I thought would be, you know, maybe I’ll call it an amusing afternoon,” he said about the inspection, “really turned out to be a lot of lessons of Kosher 101.”

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.

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

Medical Marijuana Plant Approved for Tryon in Fulton County

medical marijuana to be one of the first manufacturing operations at Tryon Technology Park

Medical Marijuana Plant Approved for Tryon Technology Park in Fulton County

Fulton County will host the manufacturing operations for one of five organizations given health department permission today for the production and sale of medical marijuana in New York State.

“Today’s announcement represents a major milestone in the implementation of New York State’s Medical Marijuana Program,” New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said in a written statement. “The five organizations selected for registration today showed, through a rigorous and comprehensive evaluation process, they are best suited to produce and provide quality medical marijuana to eligible New Yorkers in need, and to comply with New York’s strict program requirements.”

ESHS is a subsidiary of Minnesota-based Vireo Health LLC, a medical cannabis company which works to “insert standard medical, scientific, business and operational principles into the medical cannabis industry, which often lacks the expertise to meet specific scientific and medical standards,” according to its website. Kyle Kingsley is the CEO of both Empire State Health Solutions and Vireo Health.

Tryon Site in Fulton County NY

The first phase of the medical marijuana project involves renovating and retrofitting one of the existing buildings on 20 acres on the west side of the Tryon Technology Park for grow rooms, security and offices.

 

The first phase of their project involves renovating and retrofitting one of the existing buildings on 20 acres on the west side of the Tryon facility for grow rooms, security and offices.  The second phase would be the first greenhouse, and the third phase, scheduled for this fall, would be to develop additional facilities around the greenhouse.

ESHS plans to start with 20 employees in Fulton County – with an average starting wage of $22 – adding another 20 by the end of the year. When the facility is fully operational in October 2016 there could be as many as 100 unionized workers, according to Fulton County Senior Planner Sean Geraghty. The average worker would start at $22 per hour, he said.

Three top staff have already been hired, including a head horticulturalist from Austin, Texas. The company is advertising locally for some of the key entry-level positions. Applicants should search indeed.com to apply.

While New York is one of the largest states to embrace the drug’s use for medical purposes, it is hardly the first: 22 other states as well as the District of Columbia allow some form of medical marijuana,

According to the Drug Policy Alliance, a national drug reform group, 22 states and the District of Columbia have changed their laws to allow the production and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes. California was the first in 1996.

Gov. Cuomo’s opposed partial marijuana legalization when he campaigned for governor in 2010, and blocked attempts by lawmakers to create a medical marijuana program in 2011. In early 2014, however, he proposed his own plan to make the drug available at select hospitals across the state. That plan was opposed as too restrictive by advocates of patients likely to benefit from the pain-relieving affects of marijuana, such as those with cancers, seizure disorders and AIDS.

Cuomo’s next proposal, the Compassionate Care Act, also kept restrictions in place – such as barring the administration of the drug by smoking. New York producers will create alternate methods of  using the drug, including a vaporized delivery system similar to an e-cigarette.

Medical Marijuana Site Plan Approved for Tryon

The Fulton County Planning Board has approved the site plan for a proposed 208,000-square-foot medical marijuana manufacturing facility at the Tryon Technology Park.

The proposal is a significant step toward transforming the 515-acre facility into a biomedical research and manufacturing center. New York State turned the facility, a former state youth detention center, over to the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) for redevelopment in 2013.

If Empire State Health Solutions (ESHS) receives a state license to make medical marijuana, it plans to build greenhouses, laboratory space, offices and a manufacturing and processing area at Tryon. Registered as a New York State limited liability corporation, ESHS would be the first tenant in the technology park.

ESHS is a subsidiary of Minnesota-based Vireo Health LLC, a medical cannabis company which works to “insert standard medical, scientific, business and operational principles into the medical cannabis industry, which often lacks the expertise to meet specific scientific and medical standards,” according to its website. Kyle Kingsley is the CEO of both Empire State Health Solutions and Vireo Health.

If ESHS wins one of the licenses, the first phase of their project would involve renovating and retrofitting one of the existing buildings on 20 acres on west side of the site for grow rooms, security and offices.  The second phase would be the first greenhouse, and the third phase, scheduled for this fall, would be to develop additional facilities around the greenhouse.

A marijuana crop takes about eight weeks from germination to harvest under controlled climate conditions.  ESHS indicated it may need to build additional greenhouses as demand requires.

“If they’re issued a license in three or four weeks, they need to start dropping some seeds,” according to Fulton County Senior Planner Sean Geraghty at the June 16 Planning Board meeting at which the site plan was approved. “They want to start up by January.”

The New York State Department of Health began accepting applications for medical marijuana manufacturing licenses after the passage of the Compassionate Care Act last year to make marijuana available as a treatment to patients with certain serious illnesses. There are 43 applicants for the five licenses the state plans to issue by late July. Each licensee will be allowed to open four dispensaries throughout the state.

ESHS plans to start with 20 employees in Fulton County – with an average starting wage of $22 – adding another 20 by the end of the year. When the facility is fully operational in October 2016 there could be as many as 100 unionized workers, according Geraghty. The average worker would start at $22 per hour, he said.

Three top staff have already been hired, including a head horticulturalist from Austin, Texas. The company is advertising locally for some of the key entry-level positions.

Mike Mullis, of the site selection research company J.M. Mullis Inc., said  the Tryon facility is “one of the region’s greatest marketing assets.”

“It’s the best property I’ve seen in New York State,” Mullis said. “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.”

Some of the fencing was removed at Tryon when the youth detention facility was closed a few years ago. Empire would augment the existing fencing with 12-foot high barbed wire and at least 60 security cameras.

The ESHS facility would use solar panels to produce more than 1 million kilowatt hours of energy, a third of its requirements. Geothermal energy capabilities would be employed, as well as recycling of rainwater.

The Fulton County Center for Regional Growth sees biomedical technology as its next opportunity for luring a “cluster” of compatible – and even symbiotic – manufacturing companies to Fulton County. It has already worked to attract and support a cluster of food processing companies such as Fage Yogurt, Crystal Geyser Spring Water, Euphrates Cheese and Pata Negra old-world sausages.