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

Southern Adirondack Wine & Food Festival


Southern Adirondack Wine & Food Festival Logo

 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

2 N. Main Street

Gloversville, NY

Isntitsweet

Tastings of wine, cider and whisky

Hudson-Chatham WineryHummingbird Hill WineryLedge Rock Hill WineryPazdar Winery, Nine Pin CiderYankee Distillers

◊ Delicious local food

The Brass Monkey, On A Roll, Mohawk Harvest Co-opNYC PizzaSugar PearlPalatine CheeseIce Delites, Isn’t It SweetThe Nut LadyFork Art

Live music

Chelsea Reeves
GCM Wind Quintet
Baker Brass Trio
Cosby Gibson & Tom Staudle
Doghouse Trio
Penny Jar

Wine seminars

The basics of wine making and wine tasting

Art  and Craft Shows

Primitive Pimp Design
My Inner 1800s 
The Leaning Tree

◊ Architectural tours

In historic downtown Gloversville

◊ Plus….

French-themed Paint N Sip ($5 additional fee for supplies)

The Southern Adirondack Wine & Food Festival is sponsored by:

GOLD SPONSOR:
Fulton County Center for Regional Growth

SILVER SPONSORS:
Adirondack Wood Floor Co.
Mohawk Harvest Co-op
The Still Point Acupuncture

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Microenterprise Grant Program Loan Awarded

Cosmetics firm nails new loan

By MICHAEL ANICH, Originally printed in the Leader Herald, reprinted with permission

CRG President and CEO Ronald Peters today indicated the company receiving only the second loan through the CRG program is SW Skin Care & Cosmetics, Inc. of 86 Briggs St. He said the closing on the grant was Friday.

The CRG on Friday morning had declined to name the company at its board of directors meeting at Crossroads Business Park.

SW Skin Care & Cosmetics offers services such as facials, waxing, massage, makeup and nails. It was formed by Sherry Wieszchowski to provide the “best possible skin care and make-up services in the region,” its website says. The small company has attracted clients from all over New York, as well as from Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia, Florida and Canada, the site says.

CRG President and CEO Ronald Peters said the Microenterprise Grant Program, funded by the state, is administered by the CRG. He said it has been successful so far, although awards have been slow in closing.

“That program’s going good,” he stated. “It takes time.”

Offered is federal Community Development Block Grant funding filtered through the state Office of Community Renewal to be administered to local businesses in the county.

The CRG previously awarded a $25,000 check to L&L Embroidery of Johnstown through the Microenterprise Grant Program. The program is helpful for small start-up businesses and young companies, providing seed money to grow. A microenterprise is defined as a commercial enterprise that has five or fewer full-time employees, one or more of which owns the enterprise at the time of application.

“The state wants to move the process up,” Peters said. “We’re told our program is real successful.”

Peters also reported the county had 21 Consolidated Funding Applications seeking funding go into the state this year. He said that hopefully some of the applications will be successful and assist further development of the Tryon Technology Park in Perth.

“I’m excited about it,” Peters said of the CFA process. “I think we’re going to hit a home run.”

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

Benson’s Opens in Johnstown with FCCRG Loan

benson's logoJOHNSTOWN – Saratoga County-based Benson’s Pet Center plans to open an outlet in Johnstown in April, with the help of a $75,000, five-year loan from the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth.

The Johnstown store,  at 213 N. Comrie Ave., will be the sixth site in the Benson’s chain, which was opened in 1992 by Frank Kramer. The other stores are in Saratoga Springs, Colonie, Clifton Park, Queensbury and Pittsfield, Mass. According to Benson’s website, in addition to being a “full-line pet supply store,” the store will also sell small animals such as birds, fish, rodents and reptiles.

“They’re looking at possibly 15 jobs,” FCCRG CEO Ron Peters said. “I’m glad they’re here.”

The website adds: “Benson’s Pet Center does not sell cats or dogs because we want to help find homes for the numerous animals that have been rescued by the many groups and shelters that we work with. We at Benson’s Pet Center encourage our customers to look into adoption when looking for a new family pet.”