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

Calling Fulton County Businesses Over 50

Fulton County is a great place to live and do business. The Fulton County Center for Regional Growth is celebrating a cross section of its community that has shown loyalty and commitment for 50 or more years.

If you are one of these special Fulton County businesses, please let us know by sharing your story with us in this online form. We’ll make a display of your accomplishments at

The Fulton County Business Jubilee
Friday, November 13, 2015
Holiday Inn, Johnstown at 6:00 p.m.

Main Motorcar

The Business Jubilee will celebrate businesses with 50 or more years of commitment to Fulton County, NY.

This event is free and open to the public thanks to the support of a growing cadre of generous sponsors. We do need an RSVP from those who will be attending by November 9, 2015, via email or by calling  518-725-7700 Ext. 100.

The evening will feature a presentation by CRG President and CEO Ronald Peters and select business owners. Guests will be treated to an array of hors d’oeuvres and food stations courtesy of event sponsors. Additional sponsorship opportunities are still available.

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.

Business Leaders Push for Regional Development

The CEO Roundtable plays a vital role in holding counties and municipalities accountable

Vision artBuilding a vital future for our region takes all hands on deck. That’s why, in 2011, small but vital group of Montgomery and Fulton County business leaders formed The CEO Roundtable. Their vision? To create a business-friendly climate that would help the region retain existing businesses and attract new ones.

Today the CEO Roundtable members continue to promote the vision they created in their  2011 Regional Business Plan:

“The Fulton-Montgomery County Region is a progressive community providing a friendly climate for business growth and retention, a variety of entertainment venues for social gathering, an educated and trained workforce, and a diverse housing stock to meet the needs of the different lifestyles of its residents.”

Guided today by core members Dustin Swanger, president of Fulton Montgomery Community College,; Mike Reese, president of Fulton County Center for Regional Growth; Ken Rose, director of the Montgomery County Business Development Center; Jim Mraz, Fulton County planning director; Mark Kilmer, CEO of the Fulton-Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce; and Pat Michel, district superintendent of HFM BOCES; the group continues to advance the work of 6 primary goals established in that plan.

1. Educate and train the region’s students for a 21st century workforce.

Area schools have begun implementing the new common core standards to better prepare students for college and careers. BOCES is collaborating with area districts on curriculum and to ensure access to learning opportunities. Both a technology-focused high school and Apprentice Program are underway. Technology-enabled faculty-sharing is in development among school districts. BOCES and the FM Chamber sponsored a Career Fair for eighth-grade students. And several districts are regionalizing some operations (transportation, food service, etc.) to control costs.

Additionally, as reported here in October, Fulton Montgomery Community College (FMCC) has invested heavily in technology on-campus (a new clean-room and automated manufacturing lab, high-tech patient simulators, new computers, iPads and software), launched new degree programs, and modified several programs to reflect the skills needed by area business and industry.

2. Develop large and small shovel-ready sites. Fulton County has been working with New York State to transfer ownership of Tryon Park to the Fulton County IDA, which will provide a new business and industry park, complete with infrastructure, ready for development. Montgomery County has been working to expand the Florida Park Extension in preparation for new potential industries.

3. Market the region. Both counties have been developing marketing outreach efforts singly and together. A joint effort brought site selector Michael Mullis to the region in early September to highlight the number of sites available in our region and to promote the region’s business strengths:

  • Location (proximity to major throughways and easy access to markets throughout the Northeast)
  • Available workforce
  • Affordable land
  • Year-round recreational activities
  • Low cost of living

4. Improve the region’s quality of life. Another important focus is revitalizing our downtowns. To that end, the CEO Roundtable has hosted two symposia for government and business leaders from Amsterdam, Gloversville, and Johnstown to learn, brainstorm, and begin efforts to enhance our cities.

5. Extend water, sewer, utilities, and broadband service. The CEO Roundtable strongly advocates Fulton County’s exploration of a county-wide water and sewer system, which will make the county much more attractive to new and growing businesses.

6. Lower local property tax burden in the region. Our local counties and school districts have been doing all they can to control spending without crippling services. But a region can only shrink to success for so long. The only true way to control the property tax burden is to grow the base so that costs can be spread among more residents, businesses, and industries. That is why the entire Regional Business Development Plan is focused on growth.

Concludes Dustin Swanger, a founding member of The CEO Roundtable, “The CEO Roundtable, along with others in our community, has been working hard to implement the Regional Business Development Plan. We are focused on improving our region and making it a better place to live, work, and play.”

Gloversville Office and Retail Buildings

Gloversville New York downtown buildings

CW Rose Building in Downtown Gloversville NY

The City of Gloversville has some amazing commercial buildings that any small city in the country would be proud to have on their Main Street. Most seem to be in excellent shape and looking for small retail and professional businesses to move back to Downtown.

Downtown Gloversville – Fulton Street

Fulton County NY

Gloversville is full of exceptional building for retail and office space.

 

Gloversville

Gloversville, New York

Downtown District in Gloversville NY. Beautiful buildings and architecture with many available storefronts waiting for incredible businesses to join the community.

Crossroads Industrial Park, Johnstown NY – in Fulton County

Fulton County's  Crossroads Industrial Park  located in Johnstown, NY

Aerial view of Fulton County’s Crossroads Industrial Park located in Johnstown, NY

The Crossroads Industrial Park is ideal for manufacturing/distribution, warehousing & food processing. 

• Average acres per lot: 3
• Proximity to NYS Thruway: 7 miles

Utilities Available at Each Park

• Natural Gas
• Electric
• Water
• Sewer
• Heavy-duty road network
• Direct wire to police and fire protection
• Close proximity to state-of-the-art landfill
• Fiber optic telecommunication

Call for details and current availability

The Eccentric Club In Gloversville NY

 

The eccentric Club Entrance.

The eccentric Club Entrance.

The Eccentric Club Located on North Main Street in Gloversville NY

The Eccentric Club Located on North Main Street in Gloversville NY

The Eccentric Club building was constructed in 1908. It is located on the corner of North Main and Spring Streets. Downtown Gloversville is home to this extraordinary building along with many other architectural Gems.

Many famous people have attended club functions including, Joseph G. Cannon, Teddy Roosevelt,  Chauncey Depew. The highest membership recorded reached 300. To learn more about the Eccentric Club go to www.eccentricclub.com

 

 

Gloversville Library, Fulton County NY

The Gloversville Library is Located on Fulton Street in

The Gloversville Library is Located on Fulton Street in Gloversville NY

One of the great architectural gems in Gloversville, NY is the Gloversville Public Library on Fulton Street. You can find out more at www.gloversvillelibrary.org.