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

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

Fulton County pushing tech park: The Daily Gazette

Originally published in The Daily Gazette

— When Gov. Andrew Cuomo closed the Tryon Juvenile Detention Facility in 2011, Fulton County and the surrounding area lost 325 jobs and an estimated $15,000,000 in wages spent in the local economy, according to an estimate from the county planning department.

The Gloversville Water Dept. and the Gloversville-Johnstown Joint Wastewater Treatment Plant also lost a combined $170,000 in annual revenue, they said.

But while similar youth detention facilities across the state were shuttered and remained closed, officials in Fulton County had something different in mind for the Tryon facility. They asked the state to turn the property over to them so they could convert it into a business park.

“Fulton County government took the initiative,” said James Mraz, Executive Director of the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency. “After a couple years worth of back and forth this entire facility was deeded over to the county’s industrial development agency.”

The county, through a combination of grants and matching funds, has so far put over $4 million into the site. They built a ring access road throughout the 515-acre shovel-ready site, known as the Tryon Technology Park, as well as a 300,000-gallon water tower and pump station to improve water pressure and supply.

Head Cultivator Chris Schmitt looks over drying marijuana plant at Vireo Health at Tryon Technology Park in Perth on Thursday.

Head Cultivator Chris Schmitt looks over drying marijuana plant at Vireo Health at Tryon Technology Park in Perth on Thursday. PETER R. BARBER, GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER

Their plan is to tear down nearly all of the many structures that were part of the detention facility, save for one 15,000-square-foot facility they hope to convert into a regional business training and incubator center. That facility, said Mraz, will help new businesses get off the ground and provide space for them to try out ideas.

Mraz said county officials felt the site would make a good business park because of its proximity to New York’s interstate system and the presence of existing utility hookups.

“There’s already gas, electric, water and sewer service here,” said Mraz. “When you’re developing shovel-ready sites that’s usually the biggest cost, is getting that infrastructure, which is integral to developing the site. It was already here.”

He also touted the county’s access to markets.

“Because of our proximity to interstates, this county, a four-hour drive in any direction has access 70 million potential customers, and that’s huge,” said Mraz, pointing to retail giant Wal-Mart opening a food distribution center in the Johnstown industrial park as evidence of Fulton County’s advantageous location.

“They did it for a reason,” he said. “Strategically it was centrally located to a geographic area that they wanted to serve and could serve given the interstate system here. Our proximity to markets is as good if not better than most other areas.”

Mraz also touted the relative remoteness of Tryon Technology Park as an asset.

“It’s a very peaceful campus setting. So part of our marketing strategy is we’re saying ‘come here, take a 180 degree turn away from a high-cost, high-stress business life,’” he said.

“We think it’s a positive thing. And that’s how we’re trying to market it.”

Selling prospective businesses on the property is something Mraz, who doubles as the county’s planning director, said is a daily task for him and other officials.

“That’s a work task that we’re on every day,” said Mraz. “This business is very competitive.”

Mraz said the county is courting a prospect now that’s looking at sites all over the northeast.

“So every time we’re competing against other great sites, and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose,” he said. “I can’t say when we’re going to have [tenants]; all I can say is every day we’re trying.”

The Tryon Tech Park already has one tenant, Vireo Health of New York, which is one of the few companies allowed to grow and manufacture medical cannabis for use by patients in New York.

Vireo’s scientific director Eric Greenbaum said on a recent tour of the facility that the company is one of just five allowed to operate in the state, and while regulations in New York are more stringent than in other states, he sees a bright future for the industry in the state.

Greenbaum said New York’s marijuana program is a “really medical model” as opposed to more recreation-based models in Colorado and California, which could actually greatly help the medical cannabis industry nationwide to serve patients as opposed to casual users.

“[New York’s] is a model that in my opinion will serve as the template for a federal regulatory framework similar to what the FDA would do,” said Greenbaum. “Compared to California, where the medical model is basically a proxy for adult and recreational use…the fact that we don’t sell [marijuana bud], we only sell carefully formulated medicines…it’s just indicative of the approach that New York is taking.”

Vireo provides customers with carefully formulated medicines in three different forms, said Greenbaum: oil (for vaporizing), a capsule or an oral solution. The company has five brands that run the gamut from having very high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentrations and very low cannabidiol (CBD) concentrations, and vice versa.

Head Cultivator Chris Schmitt looks at buds of marijuana plants at Vireo Health at Tryon Technology Park in Perth on Thursday.

Head Cultivator Chris Schmitt looks at buds of marijuana plants at Vireo Health at Tryon Technology Park in Perth on Thursday. PETER R. BARBER, GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER

 Cannabidiol is a compound that is useful for seizure disorders as well as pain, said Greenbaum. It’s also been shown to mitigate the sometimes dysphoric effects of THC, which can include paranoia and anxiousness.

THC is the chemical produced by the glands of a marijuana plant that is most responsible for the euphoric effect – or high – found in users.

Greenbaum said the company settled at Tryon Technology Park as part of the licensing agreement it struck with the state, but that he and Vireo CEO Kyle Kingsley are native New Yorkers who are passionate about jumpstarting local economies wherever they can in the state.

“We knew that the state was really focused on repurposing this facility; we knew there was a commitment to building up the Tryon Technology Park to be a center for tech development as well as job growth for this region,” said Greenbaum.

And while the state’s regulation of medical cannabis is a bit strict now, said Greenbaum, there’s reason to believe it will broaden in the near future.

“It’s a pretty limited patient market right now; there’s been some discussion with the legislators and regulators to expand some of the qualifying patient conditions to include chronic pain,” said Greenbaum. “Chronic pain is one of the indications for which we have the most evidence of efficacy with medical cannabis. So we’re hoping that that goes through. We think it will be really good for the people of New York.”

Marijuana plants at Vireo Health at Tryon Tech Park in Perth on Thursday.

Marijuana plants at Vireo Health at Tryon Technology Park in Perth on Thursday. PETER R. BARBER, GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER

Greenbaum said Vireo is “optimistic” the regulations will be expanded within the next quarter.

“Not that we’ll be able to implement it, but we’re optimistic we’ll see an announcement within the next 90 days,” said Greenbaum. Relaxing them, he said, would “open up access a lot, and will be good for growth and patients as well.”

And growth is what county officials are hoping for as well with the Tryon Technology Park. Mraz said the capital projects at the site are in their final stages, and the way in which the county has been able to repurpose what would have become an abandoned property is a unique and inspiring way to create more jobs and commerce in the area.

“It’s just going to take some time,” he said.

Reach Gazette reporter Dan Fitzsimmons at 852-9605, dfitzsimmons@dailygazette.net or@DanFitzsimmons on Twitter.

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