What the site selectors said about Fulton County

During the first week of September 2017, Fulton County officials hosted three of only 43 certified site selectors in the nation, picking their brains for how best to market the county’s assets.

Fulton County Planning Director Jim Mraz is preparing an indepth report of the suggestions and observations of the members of the Site Selectors Guild – such as the pre-development of large industrial buildings and increasing marketing efforts.

“We brought these guys here because they’re the best of the best,” said Fulton County Planning Director Jim Mraz. “They have national and international status and experience in economic development and the corporate site-selection business. They were brought here to give us guidance and help us with perfecting our strategy moving forward.”site selectors on Twitter

Over a three day visit, the site selectors toured Tryon Technology Park, PTECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) in Johnstown, Pioneer Windows in the Johnstown Industrial Park and a workforce training program at Fulton-Montgomery Community College.

Here’s what they had to say:

Jay garnerJay A. Garner, president of Garner Economics, LLC of Fayetteville, Ga.

“A lot of people that we talk to in other areas tend to glisten over the challenges, but these were noted and there was a plan to mitigate many of those challenges,” Garner said. “That shows true leadership, and I commend you all for that.”  — as quoted by The Recorder of Amsterdam, September 11, 2017

 


 

JJim Renzasim Renzas, principal at the RSH Group, Inc. of Mission Viejo, Calif.

“Our visit here opened my eyes quite a bit. I go to a lot of much bigger areas where you couldn’t get a group this size together. People just don’t care about their community. Here, you actually have a community.”  – as quoted by The Recorder of Amsterdam, September 11, 2017

“It’s a big site and it’s a beautiful site. So there’s a lot you can do with it.” – On Tryon Technology Parkas quoted by The Recorder of Amsterdam, September 11, 2017

 


 

Dennis DonovanDennis Donovan, of New Jersey-based Wadley, Donovan, Gutshaw Consulting of Bridgewater, N.J.

“The most impressive thing I’ve seen is leadership — the leadership here is really stunningly good. People are not afraid to take chances and they’re brutally honest. You’ve got what a lot of areas don’t have so that’s really important. Your infrastructure capacity is amazing and you’ve got some nice shovel-ready sites. Fulton County might be small but you’ve got good physical product here. You will succeed. There’s no doubt about it.” as quoted by The Recorder of Amsterdam, September 11, 2017

“The training resources with BOCES PTECH and [Fulton-Montgomery Community College], they are first class — among the best I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot of them. It helps for companies to expand their workforce and upgrade their skills because the training institutions are already in place.” – as quoted by The Daily Gazette of Schenectady, September 17, 2017

“I think your training resources here are second to noneThe range of incentives you can bring to the table are good to bring in deals.” – as quoted by The Leader-Herald, September 11, 2017

“The cost of doing business in Fulton County is competitive with any location, even in the Southeast. And this is not in any way exploitative; the cost of living in the area is low.” – as quoted by The Daily Gazette of Schenectady, September 17, 2017

September Twilight Market – Fresh Start

Fresh Start Holder

The last Twilight Market of 2017 started off with a sun shower as the vendors were setting up….

We were all relieved that the rain didn’t amount to anything more serious. It had been raining on and off throughout the day – of course when there had been NO forecast for rain. Oh well. Everyone setting up simply laughed it off and the shower left as quickly as it had arrived. School had started for local children that week and it certainly felt like fall in the air. I wore a heavier fall jacket during the event and with the breeze, I was glad that I had it.

The weather certainly did not diminish the friendly atmosphere during the event. I greeted several return guests from the August Twilight Market, who eagerly stopped in to see what kind of raffle items the CRG tent was offering. I was pleased to hand out tickets for three separate drawings. Our friends at the Johnstown WalMart Distribution Center were generous in donating funds for the purchase of back-to-school items, which reflected the Fresh Start theme of the market.

I had such a good time purchasing these items. Let’s be honest, it’s fun spending other people’s money. Additionally, I have always loved back-to-school shopping and have not had an excuse to do it in a few years now. So I was happily skipping through the aisles at WalMart, marveling at the wide variety of pencil boxes and pouches, pens and markers, binders and backpacks… Cheerfully choosing all of the things that I thought a kid might want but a parent may not be able to buy. Crayons and gel pens and staplers, oh my! It was awesome.

I wound up with three raffle items: a fully stocked back pack for an elementary student, one for a middle-high school student, and, my favorite, a collapsible bin filled with everything that an adult would need to set up a home office.

DSC01021

When I showed off all of my purchases to Gloversville Downtown Development Specialist, Jennifer Jennings, she laughed at my enthusiasm. “You love this stuff, don’t you?”, she remarked. And I do! I can’t deny it. I love making people happy by giving them these fantastic gifts. We have been so fortunate to have had such great partners all summer during these events. So many businesses have allowed us the privilege of raffling off their donated items. I was often speechless by their generosity. If you have not done so, I encourage you to scroll down our news feed to read about the August Market.

In the end, our three raffle winners were drawn. Jean won the elementary school back pack, Joyce won the middle-high school back pack, and Samantha won the home office starter kit.

Jean b&w Joyce b&w Samantha b&w

I hope Samantha is ok with this, as I’m going to share with you her story as her family proudly did with me. This lovely young woman has recently achieved her GED and wants to go on to get a degree in photography. So the home office starter kit has found the perfect home. Congratulations, Samantha! We are all behind you and wish you the best as you reach out for your dream.

The Fresh Start Market played host to returning and new businesses, including two prepared food vendors, which were a HUGE hit! Here is a sampling of snap shots from the event:

DSC01046 DSC01067 DSC01059

DSC01062 DSC01051

DSC01044 DSC01043 DSC01050 DSC01030 DSC01048

The Before I Die Wall made an encore appearance. Market Music was able to move from Castiglione Park and into the Main Street corridor this month, which was so nice for those of us working the event. When the second band started their set, they played You Are My Sunshine. A toddler in a stroller who had no smile for me what-so-ever, did smile for her favorite song as she looked around to see where the music was coming from. The band played into the darkness – right up until closing time.

DSC01054 DSC01035 DSC01078 DSC01077

 

It was a great way to end our final Twilight Market for 2017. Jennifer is already planning great things for 2018 so do plan on joining us again next year.

Written by: Becky Hatcher, CRG Executive Assistant

Site Selection experts to visit Fulton County Sept. 8

You’re Invited

Logo for a guild of site selection experts visiting Fulton County on Sept. 8
in Fulton County, NY

Friday, September 8
7:30 A.M.—10:00 A.M. Holiday Inn
308 N. Comrie Ave., Johnstown, NY 12095

Three nationally recognized corporate site selection experts from the prestigious Site Selectors Guild will be in Fulton County to discuss important economic development topics.

The Site Selectors Guild is the only association of the world’s foremost professional site selection consultants. Guild members provide location strategy to corporations across the globe. There are only 47 members of this exclusive Guild.

Topics to Include:
+ Best Practices in Economic Development & Marketing

Best Practices in Workforce Training and Development

+ Site Selectors’ Assessment of Fulton County

+ Question & Answer Session

If you would like to attend this important event, please RSVP by 5:00 P.M. Tuesday September 5, 2017 to:
Beth Lathers, Legislative Aide, Fulton County Board of Supervisors at elathers@fultoncountyny.gov or (518) 736-5545

Tryon Technology Park is one of the Fulton County assets drawing site selection experts to Fulton County NY on Sept. 8fc-positive

fultonmontgomeryconnectedforbusinesslogoThis event is supported by a National Grid Economic Development Grant

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

 

 

County seeks state funding to encourage private investment

County eyes several big projects

Sewer systems and baseball fields are among big projects seeking state money in Fulton County for 2017. Recently filed was $1.6 million worth of state funding applications for five main economic development projects within the county.

The conduit for annual Empire State Development Corp. funding is the Consolidated Funding Application, or CFA.

A $500,000 state Consolidated Funding Application was submitted to improve Parkhurst Field off Harrison Street in Gloversville. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

A $500,000 state Consolidated Funding Application was submitted to improve Parkhurst Field off Harrison Street in Gloversville. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

Since 2011, New York state’s counties have been part of a process started by Gov. Andrew Cuomo involving CFAs filed from 10 regional economic development councils. Fulton and Montgomery counties are part of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council. Awards will be announced for each region by the state in December.

“We filed two [CFAs] for the Hales Mills Road Extension sewer [project] and the Vail Mills sewer [project],” Fulton County Planning Director James Mraz said last week.

For the Hales Mills development area wastewater project, crews will install a wastewater pump station/wastewater lines along the east side of Hales Mills Road Extension. The total estimated project cost will be $600,000.

For the Vail Mills development area, installation of wastewater trunk lines and a pump station are on tap. The estimated project cost is $1.3 million.

Mraz said the county filed a $120,000 CFA for the Hales Mills Road sewer project and a $260,000 CFA for the Vail Mills sewer project.

Also serving as executive director of the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency, Mraz noted the Board of Supervisors’ Capital Projects Committee decided recently not to seek state funding for a water and sewer project at the Tryon Technology Park in Perth. Fulton County was originally considering submitting a CFA for that project. Mraz said supervisors decided to postpone that project until 2019.

Fulton County is trying to improve infrastructure in the Hales Mills development area. A waterline for that area is virtually complete, and now officials have set their sights on the sewer component to bring businesses to the area.

Eventually, county officials hope to bring much commercial development to some of the 490 acres off Hales Mills Road Extension. Also proposed is 120 residential lots, mixed-use developments, townhouses and a two-mile walking trail.

Environmental Design Partnership of Clifton Park determined a sewer system and pump station on Route 29 have excess capacity. If Fulton County can gain access to existing sewer lines, officials will create a county sewer district for the Hales Mills Road development area.

The Vail Mills development area proposal shows 455 acres, with 60 residential lots. The area is also expected to attract adult senior housing, commercial/retail development, and a possible hotel.

The state prefers projects already “ready to go” by the time the CFA is pursued for them, Mraz said. For entities pursuing CFA funding, he said they don’t want to incur costs until after the grant is awarded.

“Often, timing is an issue,” Mraz said.

In the private sector, some companies may file for a CFA for a project for which they they “want to get going” now, but realistically can’t until after December or January.

Ronald Peters, president and CEO of the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth, said a $500,000 CFA was filed for continued development of Parkhurst Field off Harrison Street in Gloversville.

“That was the one we worked on with them,” Peters said.

Parkhurst Field, where the Gloversville Little League plays, in 2016 also received a $500,000 CFA award from the state.

The Parkhurst Field Foundation in February begin a capital campaign. The foundation has created a $2.3 million development plan for the 110-year-old field, which saw baseball greats from the early 20th century such as Cy Young and Honus Wagner take the field.

The plan has three phases

Phase one includes the installation of three baseball diamonds instead of the single “senior” field currently in place. Phase two includes installation of replica grandstands on the site similar to what would have been there during the turn of the century. Phase three includes landscaping, parking lot changes and other improvements.

Parkhurst Field was the site on Sunday for the fifth annual Vintage Baseball Game & Fundraiser for the Field of Dreams Capital Campaign. Festivities included a 12-year-old All-Star vintage game between the Johnstown Buckskins and the Gloversville Glovers, two teams that originally faced off locally in the late 1800s. The fundraiser also included a Vintage Baseball Game with a local A., J. & G team of former Gloversville Little League players versus the Whately Pioneers of Massachusetts.

The Fulton County Baseball & Sports Hall of Fame on Sunday also inducted 1951 Gloversville Glover Ralph Vitti, who had a successful film career, appearing in more than 30 movies and 150 television shows.

Other CFAs recently filed that involved the CRG was one for $200,000 to renew for two years the county’s successful Microenterprise Grant Program. The current grant program ends this year. The program is administered by the CRG. It is funded through Community Development Block Grant applications to the state Office of Community Renewal. It is intended to provide grants from $25,000 to $35,000 to small businesses with a maximum of five full-time employees.

The CRG has also been involved with the village of Northville on what Peters said is a Main Street “anchor” project. Applied for was a $500,000 CFA for that.

Earlier this year, Peters told his board he has spent considerable time on the downtown Northville project. He said a developer has shown interest. At one point, Peters said he was working on four potential “deals” for Northville. He said Mayor John Spaeth has been very supportive, but more details will be released later.

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

August’s “Glove City Celebration” Twilight Market

DSC00969DSC01008DSC00970

We were all thankful that the weather forecast was off and that the evening remained dry for the August Twilight Market, which took place on Friday, August 11th on North Main Street in Gloversville. Gloversville Downtown Development Specialist, Jennifer Jennings, has been battling the threat of bad weather all summer, but has prevailed throughout the season. Friday’s Twilight Market was no exception – it was a perfect summer night – not too hot, with a nice breeze to keep the air moving through the vendor tents.

I was out of town for July’s event, but glad to be on hand for this Market night. We again featured raffle items. I am so pleased with the donations that we received! A couple of weeks prior to the event, I walked flyers around to Main Street business owners, promoting CRG’s involvement in the Market and inviting them to donate an item toward the creation of give-away baskets that were representative of the theme of August’s Twilight Market: Glove City Celebration. I also emailed our wonderful Members asking them to either participate if they could or extend the message on to a Gloversville business that they felt should participate. I had initially planned to create three baskets. However, since two businesses – NBT Bank and SW The Spa – provided complete gift bags of their own, I was able to take the other donations which I received and create two themed gift baskets: Relaxation Retreat, which was geared toward an adult and Family Fun, which had some children’s items in it.

gift baskets

 The raffle was a lot of fun to promote. Thanks to our wonderful Gloversville businesses, we were able to raffle the baskets for FREE, which is the right price for everyone! The total approximate value of all four prize packages was $570.00! THANK YOU so much to the following business donors: Century Linen, Frozen Parts, Helpers Community Service, NBT Bank, Rauch’s Bakery, Studio Herbage, SW The Spa, The Pizza Joint, Vishnu Music, and WEST & Company!

Around 100 people put tickets into the drawing, and 25ish stayed around for the actual drawing at 7:00 p.m. The Fonda Fair Court girls were in attendance at the Market and volunteered to draw the winning names! And the winners were: Bryan, Family Fun Gift Basket; Sherry, NBT Bank Gift Bag; Jim, SW The Spa Gift Bag; and Marcie, Relaxation Retreat Gift Basket (her daughter posed for the picture)!

Bryan Sherry

 

Jim Marcie's daughter

Many family activities took place at the event as well. There was face painting, a sidewalk chalk art contest, a “Before I Die” wall, and a glove designing table.

DSC01017DSC00965
DSC00989DSC00988

Easterly Woodworking was in attendance with two donated benches for attendees to paint. Once complete, they will receive a coat of clear varnish and will be gifted to the City as public benches along Main Street! Another AWESOME donation to liven up downtown!

DSC00976DSC00983DSC00984

Two musical groups performed for the event at Castiglione Park. Below is one of them: Penny Jar

Penny Jar

I tried to take pictures of all of the vendors and community groups who were in attendance at the event, to show you all of the great things you missed out on if you were not there. Most were taken during and after set-up, so don’t let the lack of customers alarm you. Per Jennifer’s count, there were close to 1,000 people in attendance throughout the evening!

DSC00945DSC00952DSC00951Electric Cookie JarDSC00947DSC00978DSC00946DSC00948DSC00950L HinkleDSC00979DSC01010Peace of PotteryDSC01009DSC00981DSC00959DSC00956DSC00971DSC00957DSC00967DSC00961DSC00966DSC00968DSC00960DSC00958

I also wanted to showcase some of the great, creative sidewalk art:

DSC00991DSC00996DSC00995 DSC00997DSC00963DSC00993DSC00992DSC01001DSC01000DSC00999DSC00964DSC00998DSC00990

I hope that these pictures have illustrated how great the August Twilight Market was. If you missed it, you have ONE MORE CHANCE during 2017! Plan to join us on North Main Street on Friday, September 8, 2017 for the “Fresh Start” Twilight Market! We will be there from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and CRG will have another GREAT give-away!

Written by Becky Hatcher, Executive Assistant

 

Our August Tour: Versatile Wood

Our August Tour: Versatile Wood Fabrication

August 8, 2017 was a beautiful summer day. The dock doors were all open at Versatile Wood, located at 178 Corporate Drive in the Crossroads Industrial Park, to allow fresh air and sunshine into the manufacturing space. Our group met up with business owner, Albert Gentile, in his office for a brief overview of his business before we took our tour.

Versatile Wood has been in business for 19 years. They originally opened in 1999 and moved into the Crossroads Industrial Park in 2005.  In November 2012, Mr. Gentile purchased the 178 Corporate Drive building.

Versatile Wood specializes in the production of new wooden pallets and shipping containers, along with other custom wood products. They work from direct orders, creating pallets of various dimensions; mostly non-standard in size. The pallets are made from aspen wood, which is a softer hardwood, imported from Canada, where aspen trees are prevalent. They produce approximately 200,000 pallets per year.

The challenge to marketing pallets, I learned, is proximity to your clients. In order to make a profit, they cannot be too far away. So Versatile Wood works with local manufacturers like Benjamin Moore and Taylor Made Products, although they have made heavy-duty specialized pallets for a Massachusetts paving company. Their production is enough to warrant the employment of around 13 full-time people.

During the tour, we saw pallets being produced by hand:

DSC00907

And we watched others produced by an automated machine, which was very cool:

DSC00905

We saw a special project in process. These panels were being created for a client that has a special backing product that is designed to go behind shower walls. They asked for the panels to be created out of their material, as well as regular sheet rock. They will be displayed side by side to demonstrate how moisture effects each panel. This special product is supposed to be better designed to handle moisture. Interesting!

DSC00919 DSC00922

Here we see stacks of finished pallets, waiting to be shipped out to customers. A forklift truck came through to add to one stack.

DSC00925 DSC00926 DSC00928

We went outside, behind the building, to look at raw materials, just waiting to be turned into pallets. Some of the items cannot get wet and are stored under a canopy. Others are outside. Some lumber arrives in long pieces, others are pre-cut for faster assembly. Quality is stressed here. If a pallet is found to have a defect, it is either repaired or scrapped. Employees are also conscientious of waste. If a board is mis-cut or if something needs to be replaced, the replaced wood is saved to be used on another project, if possible.

DSC00931 DSC00932 DSC00937

DSC00911 DSC00933  

Touring Versatile Wood was a great experience. As you can expect, the atmosphere in the main assembly room was very loud with all of the nail guns sounding off, but it smelled great – like fresh cut wood. Everyone enjoyed their visit. Special thanks to owner, Albert Gentile and his sons, Albert, Jr. and Nicholas, for their time and assistance on our tour.

DSC00941

from left: Albert Gentile, Jr.; Nicholas Gentile; Albert Gentile, Sr.; Gloversville Mayor Dayton King; Ronald Olinsky; Gary Greco; Kathi Iannotti, Johnstown Council Ward 2; Jack Wilson, Fulton County Supervisor, Town of Johnstown; Scott Hohenforst; Johnstown Mayor Vernon Jackson; and Gregory Fagan, Fulton County Supervisor, Town of Perth

Written by Becky Hatcher, Executive Assistant

Fox Run Receives $25,000 Microenterprise Grant

The Mayor of Johnstown, Vernon Jackson, and Fulton County Supervisor, William Waldron, joined Ronald Peters, President and CEO of Fulton County Center for Regional Growth, on August 4, 2017, for the presentation of $25,000 in grant funding to Cover the Distance, LLC d/b/a Fox Run Golf Course.

Fox Run Golf Course accepts a $25,000 Microenterprise Grant from Fulton County, NY.

Richard and Marlana Scott were very excited that their application was accepted by New York State. They used the funds to purchase a new greens mower. “This is the first piece of new equipment that the golf course has purchased. The other equipment is all second hand,” said Mr. Scott, as he showed attendees various features of the mower. “This purchase was made possible because of these grant funds.”

Ronald Peters said that he has enjoyed the opportunity to fund small businesses through this program. “This program has proven to be a great fit for Fulton County,” Mr. Peters said. “It has given small businesses like Fox Run the edge they need to succeed.”

Microenterprise Grant funds are designated for businesses with 5 employees or less. Job creation is an important aspect of the grant process. Fox Run has created 2 jobs already this summer as part of their grant obligation.

For immediate release: August 7, 2017

Contact: Ronald Peters, President & CEO

Phone: 518-725-7700, ext 101

Email: ronp@fccrg.org

About Fulton County Center for Regional Growth:

Fulton County Center for Regional Growth’s (CRG) mission is to strengthen Fulton County’s economic base, facilitate sustainable growth, enhance the competitive position of our region, its counties, towns and cities and facilitate investments that build capacity, create jobs, improve quality of life and increase the standard living for all of its residents.

CRG is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. To become a member, visit our website at www.fccrg.org/crg-membership. To stay in touch with CRG, follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fccrg/ or on Instagram at @downtowngloversville.

37 new senior apts. in Gloversville announced

State Homes and Community Renewal, Liberty Affordable Housing and Partners 

The unfinished, North Main Street-facing portion of the Estee Commons complex. Leader Herald Photo

The unfinished, North Main Street-facing portion of the Estee Commons complex. Leader Herald Photo

Announce Construction of 37 Apartments for Seniors in Gloversville

 ‘Estee Senior Apartments’ Complements Governor Cuomo’s Successful Mohawk Valley Revitalization Initiative to Grow Economy, Create New Opportunities

 New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) joined Liberty Affordable Housing, Inc., partners and community leaders to mark construction of Estee Senior Apartments, 37 energy-efficient units of affordable senior housing in the Fulton County City of Gloversville. The development complements initiatives of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council to grow the economy and create new opportunities.

HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Congratulations to Liberty Affordable Housing and all our partners who came together on behalf of the 37 households who will call Estee Senior Apartments home. This development not only will provide modern and affordable housing for people in the community they love, it enhances Governor Cuomo’s successful regional economic development strategies for the Mohawk Valley that are creating opportunities in Fulton County and beyond.”

The three-story building at 90 North Main Street, gets its name from the Estee School which was built in 1916 and operated for 80 years before it closed. Vacant for 20 years, deterioration was too great for the building to be renovated. It was razed and the new building, which will architecturally resemble the old one, will occupy the site. Small retailers, restaurants, medical offices, churches and homes surround the development which will generate revenue for the city. A U.S. Post Office and public library are located less than a quarter-mile away.

Estee Senior Apartments complements Governor Cuomo’s Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council’s support of downtown revitalization initiatives. “The new global economy demands walkable communities, active and adaptable public spaces, appropriate architecture, concentrated development and incorporated historic building fabric,” said Council Co-Chair Dr. Dustin Swanger, who is President of Fulton-Montgomery Community College. “The Mohawk Valley REDC continues to prioritize supporting urban centers, including the City of Gloversville with their place-focused, people-led approach to downtown revitalization.”

 New York State Homes and Community Renewal funding for the $9 million project includes: more than $465,000 of Low Income Housing Tax Credits, the sale of which will leverage about $4.6 million of private investor equity and a $400,000 federal grant awarded to the City of Gloversville. In addition, a $3.7 million grant was awarded by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) through funds generated by settlements between the New York State Attorney General and banks stemming from the mortgage foreclosure crisis; a $250,000 grant from the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York’s Economic Development Assistance Program and a $38,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

Jessica Scialdo, President and Chairperson of the Liberty Affordable Housing, Inc., Board of Directors said, “Liberty is truly thrilled to mark the start of construction of Estee Senior Apartments in the heart of Gloversville. We are proud to be part of the City’s vision for the future and it is our hope these 37 units of quality affordable housing for seniors will spark continued revitalization of this Downtown Gloversville Historic District. Liberty will be committed to the quality of life of the City residents who will call Estee Senior Apartments their home.” 

Denise Scott, LISC Executive Vice President said, “The development is blight-fighting at its best: replacing a long-vacant school in the central business district with high-quality, affordable housing for seniors, including veterans and people with disabilities. The work dovetails well with Governor Cuomo’s revitalization efforts in the Mohawk Valley were LISC also provided a$1.6 million grant to the Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank. Both grants we provided were generated by the Attorney General’s settlements with banks as a result of the mortgage foreclosure crisis.”

 About New York State Homes and Community Renewal

NYS Homes and Community Renewal’s (HCR) housing and community development agencies work to create, preserve and improve affordable homes and vibrant communities, in keeping with Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s vision of a more inclusive, affordable, sustainable, and resilient New York. In 2016, HCR set a record for the third year in a row, financing the creation or preservation of more than 17,000 affordable homes and apartments, creating nearly 2,000 homeownership opportunities for first-time homebuyers, and was once again the #1 affordable housing bond issuer in the nation with $2.8 billion issued. For more information on HCR agencies, programs and initiatives, please visit: http://www.nyshcr.org/

About Liberty Affordable Housing

Liberty Affordable Housing Inc. (Liberty) is a not-for-profit developer headquartered in Rome, New York. Liberty was incorporated in 2002 and has a community-based volunteer Board of Directors with a mission to produce, protect and preserve affordable housing. Since its inception Liberty has shown the ability to complete projects it has undertaken by successfully closing on three new construction and fifteen preservation projects. In all its endeavors, Liberty seeks to positively impact communities by providing “Better Lives Through Better Housing.” 

Fulton County Elected Officials Tour Euphrates

Fulton County Elected Officials Tour Euphrates

Our group of 15 met in the afternoon of July 11th for the second scheduled business tours for elected officials in Fulton County. Nikki Famiano, Finance Manager of Euphrates, the feta cheese manufacturing plant in the Johnstown Industrial Park, conducted our tour, with the assistance of Cheese Master, Harun Ovacik and Nancy Nellis.

We learned that Euphrates buys raw milk, which arrives via tanker truck in a special bay of their building. Deliveries are received Sunday through Wednesday or Thursday. The truck is washed down before the milk is unloaded and transferred into holding silos. The truck is then washed down again, inside and out. Once the milk is in the silo, it can only remain there for a maximum of 72 hours. There, it is temperature controlled and pasteurized so that it can become something much better – feta cheese.

20170712125952_00001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donning protective gear consisting of coats, hair nets, and optional booties, our tour group entered the main production area. The temperature here is around 90 degrees and is humid. If you like to be that warm, this is the place for you to work. We walked  past stainless steel troughs that are filled with milk and then mixed with cultures and left to solidify into the first stage of feta cheese.

The cultured milk mixture could set up a quickly as 45 minutes or as long as 2 hours. Once it is ready, the solid curd is cut into small blocks with a wire rack, and then stirred to separate the white cheese from the yellow whey. One end of the trough lifts open to allow the contents to flow down a channel into empty block forms, which are waiting on a conveyor belt below. An employee spreads the mixture evenly into the multi-chambered block form before it continues down the assembly line. These forms are then stacked 6 high. The stacks are taken to a machine which clamps them together and turns them over 3 times to help remove whey from the cheese curd.

At this point, the small cubes of curd have been reformed into a larger block within the form. They still contain some whey so they are now removed from the block form and placed into a large box that contains brine. The newly created feta cheese will remain in the brine for 5 to 9 days. The salted water helps remove any remaining whey from the cheese and adds to its feta flavor.

It then moves on to the packaging room, which is notably cooler than the production facility. Here, feta cheese orders are referenced and the cheese is packaged accordingly. The cheese can be crumbled, cubed, sold in various sized blocks, or in buckets up to 5 pounds. Euphrates contracts with other companies, putting their product labels onto Euphrates’ feta cheese. So a great deal of information determines how each block of cheese is packaged. Once the packaging is complete, orders are placed into a large cooler where the temperature ranges from 35 to 45 degrees. Here it will wait until it is picked up by the purchaser.

20170712125932_00001

20170712125914_00001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interestingly, while Euphrates feta cheese is shipped nationwide, Euphrates does not do the shipping. Purchasers are notified when their order is ready for pick up and it is their responsibility to come to the Johnstown manufacturing plant to pick-up their order. Before any product is loaded onto a refrigerated truck, Euphrates tests the temperature inside the empty trailer to make sure it is cool enough to receive the order.

 Fast Facts about Euphrates:

  • Annual Employee Count: 75-82
  • Pounds of milk processed per year: 50,000,000
  • Two of their milk silos hold 20,000 pounds of milk and another one holds 30,000 pounds of milk
  • Euphrates manufactures 3-4 million pounds of feta cheese per year
  • Euphrates is regularly audited by the FDA and routinely scores 97-100% during their assessment
  • Every step of the cheese making process is documented – from the time that the milk arrives at the plant to the point that it leaves – every temperature change, additive, curing time, and packaging label are all recorded
  • An onsite lab tests the ph level of the milk and maintains the quality and taste of the feta cheese
  • Due to a shortage in storage, Euphrates recently purchased a neighboring building in the Johnstown Industrial Park: 190 Enterprise Road

On behalf of our tour group, I would like to thank the employees of Euphrates, especially our tour guides, Nikki, Nancy and Haran, for their hospitality. Euphrates is yet another example of a quality corporation, quietly working within our community that everyone should know more about. We were thrilled that they agreed to let us visit their facility. While I could not take pictures of the feta cheese making process, I did get a group photo after our tour. Note the smiles on everyone’s faces as they hold their gift bags. And now you have to excuse me as I close this post and look for feta recipes!

DSC00872

Written by CRG Executive Assistant, Becky Hatcher