Mohawk Valley Land Bank is Encouraged

Herkimer County has officially encouraged a plan to create a six-county, not-for-profit corporation that would be allowed to acquire and improve derelict properties.

The proposed land bank would have the power to acquire vacant sites, rundown and abandoned properties and tax delinquent parcels. It would also have the power to borrow money to secure the sites and find buyers interested in making the properties productive.KMVB LOGO

Under a state law enacted in 2011, any tax district with foreclosure powers is eligible to form a not-for-profit land bank with approval from the state’s urban development corporation. The idea behind a Mohawk Valley Land Bank is that a regional public authority would have more focus and greater resources to make sure the properties aren’t disposed of at far less than they are worth. The authority could also work with buyers to make sure the properties are secured and redeveloped, rather than persisting in dereliction and tax delinquency.

The Keep Mohawk Valley Beautiful (KMVB) committee of the Mohawk Valley Economic Development District has so far held three informational meetings in Johnstown, Herkimer and Oneonta exploring the creation of a land bank to include Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego and Schoharie counties.  A proposed land bank is one of four parts of KMVB’s anti-blight campaign, which also encompasses the use of the Keep America Beautiful Community Appearance Index, the Great American Cleanup and Adopt a Spot.

The Herkimer County Legislature passed a resolution Feb. 18 to encourage continued investigation of forming a regional land bank. According to the MVEDD, state legislation allows for 20 land banks in New York, and 11 land banks have already been approved. There are 120 land banks in the nation.

On Tuesday, March 3, the group will hold an informational meeting at SUNY Oneonta’s Red Dragon Theater, 108 Ravine Parkway, Oneonta. All meetings begin at 6:30 PM.

“Blight is a problem in communities everywhere, and Keep Mohawk Valley Beautiful (KMVB) is doing something about it,” said Bob Albrecht, chair of the KMVB Board of Directors.

Steve Smith, executive director of MVEDD, said, “Municipalities are looking for help in dealing with blight, whether it is rubbish along the streets or abandoned houses. We think our six-county network together with KMVB volunteers can make a difference.”

 For more information

Mohawk Valley Economic Development District

Keep Mohawk Valley Beautiful’s Facebook page

New York State Land Banks: Combating Blight and Vacancy in New York Communities – PDF

Vacant Properties: The True Costs to Communities – PDF

2011 New York State Land Bank Enabling Legislation – PDF

Land Bank Guidelines -PDF


Historic Johnstown Downtown Getting Facelift

main street johnstown 1

Seven storefronts in Johnstown’s historic downtown will benefit from shares of a $200,000 funding pool from the NY Main Street Grant Program, which provides financial resources and technical assistance to improve traditional main streets and neighborhoods. City leaders have been working with citizens and architects on details of what should be encouraged and allowed with facade renovations to preserve the historical charm of the city.

Johnstown NY Sunset

Linda S. Joseph Inc., doing business as Vintage Cafe at 21 West Main Street, will receive $16,125 from the grant program toward a facade revitalization estimated to cost $26,500. Pending Planning Board review expected in March, the work would replace broken and missing bricks; remove plywood and curved details over the front door; replace the flashing at the top of the storefront’s cornice; replace a residence door and the front-entrance storm door; replace, paint and coat interior and exterior woodwork, galvanized metal masonry; and improve the lighting.

In February, the city Planning Board approved a renovation for 18 West Main Street proposed by downtown property owner and former city councilman at large Bryan Marcucci. He plans to turn the property into a  restaurant and microbrewery called Black Tie Pub N Brew. Marcucci’s project has been awarded $31,850 through the NY Main Street Grant Program.

main st johnstown 2Jeff and Nick Kollar have submitted plans for a $33,000 remodel of first-floor storefronts at 1-5 W. Main St.,  $24,375 of which would be covered by a grant, subject to Planning Board review. Nick and Jeff Kollar own the building and Nick works for C.T. Male, one of the tenants. The other tenants are Ferguson & Foss Surveyors, Osborne Computers and C.W. Hair Design.

Helmut Philipp, an attorney with Brenner Group, LLC of Delmar, Albany County, received approval in February to transform 17 W. Main St. into apartments and a retail storefront. That project will receive $34,900 through the NY Main Street Grant Program. The finished building will have an 8-foot-wide, 7-foot-tall center window, a new cedar roof and freshly stained brick. Recessed lighting may be installed over the windows and doors.

Arthur Schrum and Douglas Town, will received $15,000 toward repairing, priming, painting and repointing the front facade of 128 W. Main St. as well as replacing and repairing the cellar entrance.

Laura Casamento will receive $15,000 to help fund a new entry door/trim; window repairs, exterior paint, and installation of three gas meters at On The Way Up.

Theresa Cook was granted $12,750 toward front and rear facade renovation, the installation of a rear fire escape, and the replacement of windows and electric wiring throughout 32 W. Main St.

The grant program is administered by the Office of Community Renewal with funds from the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation (HTFC) to units of local government, business improvement districts, and other not-for-profit organizations. The money is earmarked for revitalizing historic downtowns, mixed-use neighborhood commercial districts and village centers.

A Case for Spurring Rail Access in Fulton County, NY


Fulton County manufacturers have ample access to easy transportation through proximity to the NY State Thruway, airports, and the Port of Albany, but shipping could be even more efficient with rail linkage from the manufacturing facilities to the vast network of rails spanning the East Coast.

In 2013, businesses invested $456.8 million in new or expanded rail-served facilities on CSX and its connecting regional and short lines. CSX owns the Mohawk Subdivision, which runs from Amsterdam to Syracuse along the former New York Central Railroad main line. Those lines continue to the Port of Albany and connect to tracks all the way down to Florida and across the western states.

Connecting CSX main lines to existing industrial sites in Fulton County would make the sites in the parks even more desirable to new and existing facilities.

Direct or shared industrial rail line spurs are usually built through collaborations between businesses and  state/local economic development and governmental agencies.

Other New York communities have received state and federal funding for rail spur projects. For example:

  • In 2010, Riverhead, NY, was awarded $4.8 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, plus additional state funds to restore a short rail line connecting a 2,000-acre industrial park that the town took over from the defense contractor Grumman Corp., which ceased operations at the site in the 1990s.
  • In 2012, the New York Department of State’s Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) granted The Business Corporation for a Greater Massena $125,000 to partially fund a spur on the existing CSX St. Lawrence Subdivision to service the Curran Renewable Energy wood pellet plant and AgPro’s soybean processing facility.
  • In 2013, the Port of Oswego Authority was awarded $192,000 from NBRC to construct a rail spur and additional rail car storage on the only intermodal deepwater port in New York State , Lake Ontario. The project directly benefitted the Novelis Aluminum Plant in Scriba, NY, which expanded and added 100 jobs, as well as grain producers in Central New York.

How A Sidetrack is Born

CSX’s Industrial Development Group works with companies to expand its rail network to individually serve new or existing facilities. Each year it works with 100-150 companies, bringing rail lines to existing facilities.

The process is pretty seamless: the company works alongside a Site Design Manager to coordinate the project and design the new private sidetrack, which is then reviewed internally by CSX’s Operating and Engineering Department. Each new line would have its own Private Sidetrack Agreement detailing ownership, construction and maintenance, as well as outlining the relationship between the facility and CSX.

The benefits are numerous:

 Simpler logistics: Shipments that leave by rail directly from the facility are easy to track, have less handling time and avoid any time lost due to unforeseen issues by highway shipping. CSX offers tracking of shipments, digital reporting and other ways to monitor shipments that truck shipping doesn’t allow.

Cost-Effective Shipping: A multi-modal organization like CSX keeps costs under one roof, monitored and minimized.

Better for the Environment:  If you’ve missed any of CSX’s commercials in the past few years, you might not know that rail transportation uses a tiny fraction of the fuel to cover long distances, vs. the immense amounts of fuel required by highway freight trucks.

Safer:  According to data compiled by the non partisan Congressional Research Service, from 1996 to 2007 railroads consistently spilled less crude oil per ton-mile transported than other modes of land transportation.

Access: CSX operates and maintains more than 2,800 miles of track, and invested more than $13.6 million in 2013 in its New York network.


Outdoor Writers Land at The Fly Shack and other Fulton County gems

Three times in the last five years, the New York State Outdoor Writers’ Association has chosen Fulton County, NY as its retreat destination.

“If there was an underlying theme to this year’s Spring Safari, it is that we were in a place that has a multitude of offerings, both in and away from the waters, forests and fields,” wrote Dan Ladd, who writes the Hunting and Fishing Report for the Plattsburgh Press Republican, is the outdoors editor of the Glens Falls Chronicle and the author of “Deer Hunting in the Adirondacks.”

The NYSOWA, made up of outdoor media folk, visited a number of local retailers specializing in outdoor sporting, putting a spotlight on Fulton County’s small businesses and how they contribute to the county’s identity as a unique recreational hotspot. Among these retailers was The Fly Shack, a fly fishing shop in downtown Gloversville.the fly shack

The Fly Shack carries a vast selection of flies for trout, bass, salmon, and saltwater fish; fly tying accessories and boxes; waders, boots, vests and other gear; accessories; rods, books and DVDs. With a busy online shop, it brings a diverse inventory to fishing enthusiasts in the region and beyond.

The writers fished for walleye, trout and pike on the Great Sacandaga Reservoir; bass and rainbow trout on Pecks Lake, and also visited the state campground at Caroga Lake and a private resort on Pine Lake.

They rolled out of bed one morning at 2:30 a.m. to hunt wild turkey in farm country. They also attended the unveiling of a NYSOWA display at the Wildlife Sports and Educational Museum in Vail Mills, just outside Broadalbin and toured the museum’s collection of replica record-breaking whitetail bucks.WildlifeSportsMuseum

Frank’s Gun Shop a family-run retailer in Mayfield, sprang for a pizza party for the writers, before they continued to Taylor Made in Gloversville, a factory that employs more than 200 people making accessories for boating and other industries.


$25,000 grants for small business


Microenterprise Grant Program Application Form

The CDBG Microenterprise Grant Program is a grant program to assist small businesses.  This grant was awarded to Fulton County and is being administered by the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth.  Small businesses can receive grants of up to $25,000 to assist with startup or expansion costs which create jobs. Below are general guidelines for a potential business utilizing CDBG Microenterprise Grant funding.

CDBG Microenterprise Grant Program Summary and Business Assistance Guidelines

1. Eligibility

a. Eligible Businesses- Grants will be available only to microenterprises.  A microenterprise is defined as a commercial enterprise that has (5) five or fewer FTE employees, one (1) or more of which owns the enterprise at the time of application. Projects must result in the creation afar least one PTE job. In the case where no jobs are to be created, the employer and/owner or current employee base must be low or moderate-income person as established by CDBG at the time closing.

b. Eligible Activities – Eligible activities include providing assistance to businesses that are involved in manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, agriculture, high technology, research and development and traditional and innovative small business endeavors. Retail projects will be considered if the business is located in a town, village or city’s main street.

c. Business Structure -  The Microenterprise may be a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company or corporation.

d. Location – The business must be located within Fulton County.

e. Feasibility -  Microenterprise businesses must present a reasonable likelihood for long term viability based upon issues such as feasibility, marketability, management, competition, and capitalization.

f. Use of Funds - Grants can be used for capital assets (such as real estate, buildings, machinery and equipment) and working capital.

g. Applicant Qualifications – Applicants for financing under this program shall be a United States corporation, LLC, partnership, or sole proprietorship, be able to repay if found in default of program objectives, and possess good character and reputation and be of legal age.

h. Passive Investing Prohibited – Grant funds will not be utilized for activities that consist primarily of investing, speculation in real estate, or to primarily assist in the sale or purchase of an existing business.

i. Limits on Construction Funding -  Construction, rehabilitation and renovation activities are not eligible using CDBG Microenterprise funding, as such activities would trigger Federal Labor Standards.  The program will look to non-Federal funds to cover the cost of construction or renovation in those instances where such activities need to take place.

2. Funding

a. Grant Calculation – The minimum grant for each business will be $5,000 and the maximum will be $25,000. The grant will be calculated as follows.  Each business will receive a $5,000 grant plus $10,000 for each full time equivalent job created. In addition, for any business at least 51% of the jobs created shall be low mod jobs.

b. Use of Grant Funds – Grant Funds will be provided Financing of capital assets (such as real estate, buildings, machinery and equipment) and working capital.

c. Owner Contribution – Grant recipient will provide a minimum of 10% equity in the project.

d. Timing of Grant Funds – Grant funds will be release on a pre-agreed upon schedule, where CDBG funds will be disbursed on a pro rata basis with the other financing

e. Compliance During the Regulatory Term – A formal agreement between the business and the County will be executed.  Where collateral is available, this agreement will be secured by a means of a mortgage on real estate or a lien in other hard assets.  This agreement will constitute the means by which the County enforces compliance with program requirements.  The program will include regular periodic monitoring of each business to ensure that it is making good faith efforts to achieve employment goals and other program objectives.

3. Entrepreneurial Training Requirement

Participation in the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth (CRG) business training program will be required of all program participants and completion CRG’s entrepreneurial training Small Business Training Program.  The cost of $100 per attendee will be an eligible expense of micro enterprise grant funds.  A training program syllabus includes a general overview of business; accounting, taxes, and finance; marketing and e-commerce; and development of a business plan.

4.  Grant Recapture

In the event the grant recipient goes out of business or goes into defaults on the grant agreement from the date of the award up until the time of grant close-out, the grant will be subject to recapture. The amount to be returned will be based upon years of successful, legitimate operation according to the following schedule:

Default within One Year – 100% Recapture

Default within Two Years – 80% Recapture

Default within Three Years – 60% Recapture

Default within Four Years – 40% Recapture

Default within Five Years – 20% Recapture

Default After Five Years – No Recapture

Why Companies Should Consider Upstate New York’s Fulton and Montgomery Counties

New York’s Fulton County and Montgomery County are truly rich in resources for business and industry. This central New York area offers unique opportunities for manufacturing, warehousing and distribution operations and is very attractive to companies who are reshoring operations after years of investment abroad:

  • A 21st century workforce
  • Accessibility via road to vital northeast markets
  • Port access in Albany for international transport
  • Ample water, milk, and agricultural resources
  • Affordable ex-urban quality of life
  • Affordable real estate
  • Shovel-ready sites for businesses large and small

Ample Choices for Businesses Large and Small
Fulton County, NY is home to manufacturing and/or distributing operations for companies as diverse as U.S. retailers Walmart, Greek manufacturer FAGE Yogurt, Euphrates Cheese, French bottler C.G. Roxane, Spanish charcutier Pata Negra, and the global headquarters of medical device manufacturer Epimed International.

FULTON COUNTY WITHIN NYSThe county currently has three shovel-ready business parks with readily available natural gas, electric, water, sewer, heavy-duty road network, direct wire to police and fire protection, close proximity to state-of-the-art landfill, and fiber optic telecommunications:

  • Crossroads Business Park offers a campus-like setting featuring modern infrastructure and natural beauty. Average acres per lot are 3.2; with custom facility construction available in sizes ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 square feet.
  • Crossroads Industrial Park features 3-acre lot average sizes and is a perfect location for manufacturing, distribution, warehousing and food processing.
  • Johnstown Industrial Park lots average 6 acres and are also ideal for manufacturing, distribution, warehousing and food processing.

Also coming on line in 2014 is the new 515-acre Tryon Technology Park and Incubator Center on County Highway 107. Formerly home to a juvenile detention facility, New York State agreed in February 2012 to turn the site over to local officials for economic development.

Positive Reviews by Site Consultant J. M. Mullis
According to J.M. Mullis CEO Michael Mullis, who has worked with Fulton and Montgomery Counties in the past and toured the region in early September 2013, this region has a lot to offer businesses looking for a great New York location. Mullis noted, “There’s not a state in the union with a more diverse workforce and more knowledge than New York. But few people realize the riches available in the Fulton and Montgomery County area.”

“When companies think about the northeast they think Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York State,” Mullin continued at a briefing following his tour. “Within New York, they usually are aware of New York City, Buffalo, Albany, and Binghamton, and nothing in between.”

According to Mullis, the region offers outstanding:

  • Transportation infrastructure. Nearby major roadways offer ready access to Montreal, New York, Boston, and points west. Also nearby are deep-water port access and a highly functional international airport.  Rail-spur options are under review.
  • Energy. Fresh water and wastewater treatment options are plentiful.
  • Permitting. The state process is very good, and local officials work collaboratively to make permitting as easy as possible.
  • Incentives. State and local economic development entities understand the importance of incentives to offset local tax burdens to businesses.
  • Quality of life. The location offers affordable housing, rural beauty, and nearby access to cultural centers like Saratoga, the Berkshires, and the Capital Region, as well as to the vast outdoor recreational resources of the Adirondack Mountains and Mohawk Valley.
  • Proximity to research technology centers like Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, CUNY, SUNY, and the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.
  • Workforce. There is ample workforce to call on in the region, and 21st century workforce readiness efforts by The CEO Roundtable and Fulton Montgomery Community College have brought advanced manufacturing and other critical training resources to the region.
  • Shovel-ready sites including three in Fulton County and one in Montgomery County.

Mullis also noted that the new Tryon site will be unique in the state. “This is one of the region’s greatest marketing assets,” he explained. “It’s the best property I’ve seen in New York State. 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.”

The Best Time is Now
This is a great time to invest in your company’s future in upstate New York. Contact FCCRG for information on how we can help you with:

  • Building stock and land
  • Identifying and navigating financing options
  • Providing consulting services
  • Real estate management and development
  • Marketing services

Contact Fulton County Center for Regional Growth at 518-725-7700.

National Grid Funding Sought for Marketing Tryon Park Site

Tryon Site in Fulton County NY

Fulton County will transform the 515-acre Tryon site on County Highway 107 into Tryon Technology Park and Incubator Center once the state awards the deed.

The Leader Herald recently reported that the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency is awaiting approval from National Grid for a grant application submitted in October. The grant would be used to develop a marketing plan to transform the 515-acre Tryon site on County Highway 107 into the Tryon Technology Park and Incubator Center. New York state agreed in February 2012 to turn the site over to local officials. But the IDA is still waiting on the state to deed the title for the property to the agency.

The grant, if awarded, will be matched with money the Fulton County Board of Supervisors has authorized for 2014 and will cover:

  • Identifying the region’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
  • Regional labor analysis
  • Evaluation of the cost of living
  • Evaluating the existing transportation system
  • Evaluating utilities
  • Evaluating water and sewer
  • Identifying target industry clusters
  • Identifying contacts for top 10 industry clusters
  • Creating a Regional Business Training Center at an existing Tryon building
  • Completing an engineering report on existing backup generator
  • Development of a Tryon marketing plan

For information about this site, please contact Mike Reese at (518) 762-8700.

Fulton County’s New Approach to Economic Development

Fulton County Center for Regional Growth is taking a new approach to economic development.

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.”

Congratulations to the Winner of Our Photo Contest

FCCRG Photo Contest Winner

CRG Photo Contest Winner Trevor Junquera.
Photo courtesy of Leader Herald.

We were pleased to see so many friends at the annual Networking event on November 22nd, where we announced the new marketing initiaives underway to expand business in Fulton County.

And it was with great pride that we announced 23-year old Northville resident Trevor Junquera as the winner of our amateur photo contest. Junquera’s winning entry was a photograph of the Chamber of Commerce building in Gloversville, entitled “Chamber of Commerce.” Another of his photos, “Johnstown Sunset,” was among the six finalists selected by CRG and our marketing agency Shannon-Rose Design.

Gloversville NY Chamber of Commerce

Chamber of Commerce
Gloversville, NY

The amateur photography contest was launched this summer and was open to people ages 12 to 25 who have attended or are attending a school in Fulton County. Finalists were selected based on both the content and the quality of their original photography. The goal was to celebrate Fulton County through images that showcase the good hearts of our people and the seeds of economic vitality that will ultimately enable us to restore our downtowns and grow our economy.

Fulton County Center for Regional Growth president Mike Reese presented Junquera with the prize — a high definition digital EOS Rebel T3 camera with 180-55 IS lens. “I’m just happy to be a part of this,” Junquera told the Leader Herald. “I think it’s great [the CRG] is increasing the inbound marketing with Facebook and blogging because it all gets people to the area and to visit their website and I’m proud to be a part of that.”

FCCRG Photo Contest Finalists

FCCRG Photo Contest finalists Coleen Chupka, Laiken Whittredge, Alicia McCloskey, Ashley Warner, and winner Trevor Junquera.

We also congratulate and thank the other finalists Coleen Chupka, Laiken Whittredge, Alicia McCloskey, and Ashley Warner.

All of the finalists photographs can be viewed here.