Gloversville Downtown Development Specialist hired

jennifer-jenningsFulton County Center for Regional Growth and the City of Gloversville, in conjunction with the downtown development team, are pleased to announce that Jennifer Jennings has been hired for the position of Gloversville Downtown Development Specialist.

Ms. Jennings is a graduate of Bryant College in Smithfield, RI. She spent several years in London, United Kingdom, where she earned a master’s degree in Urbanization and Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Upon her return to the states, she began a career in farm advocacy and area food systems. She has worked as an outreach consultant for the Agricultural Stewardship Association before moving on to work as a Food Industry Relations Associate for the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. Most recently, Ms. Jennings worked as Market Manager for Schenectady Greenmarket.

“I am very excited about this new challenge,” Ms. Jennings said. “I have a deep affection for the city of Gloversville and see so much possibility in our area. While studying abroad, I began to connect the information I was learning with my home in the Mohawk Valley, specifically with Fulton and Montgomery Counties. My experiences provide me with a unique perspective on how to approach the problems of redevelopment. I can’t wait to get started.”

“We look forward to having Jennifer join our office,” CRG President and CEO, Ronald Peters, stated. “Our downtown team developed a specific job description when considering what we needed this position to do for downtown Gloversville. We conducted a thorough candidate search and are confident that we chose a qualified, energetic and enthusiastic employee in Jennifer Jennings.”

Gloversville Mayor Dayton King is also excited about Ms. Jennings joining the CRG. He added, “This position will be great for the City of Gloversville as we continue to move revitalization forward. I have enjoyed working with Ron Peters as we (the City of Gloversville) have renewed our partnership with CRG. The addition of Jennifer as the Gloversville Downtown Development Specialist will only help our relationship to grow.”

The downtown development team supporting the Gloversville Downtown Development Specialist position is made up of a consortium of downtown business owners and downtown groups. This team has collectively funded the position for a three-year contract and will assist CRG in overseeing the progress and direction of the position. The team consists of: the City of Gloversville, Downtown Gloversville Business Improvement District, Fulton County Center for Regional Growth, Gloversville Economic Development Corporation (AKA Promote Gloversville), the Hohenforst Family, and Ronald Zimmerman.

Ms. Jennings will start her new job with CRG on January 3, 2017. Downtown Gloversville businesses are encouraged to reach out to her as of this date via phone (518-725-7700, ext 107), email (, or at CRG’s office, located at 34 West Fulton Street.

CRG welcomes first Diamond Member

A New Mexico-based charity has become the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth’s first “diamond” member, with a $5,000 donation supporting the organization’s economic development efforts.

The chief financial officer of Santa Fe-based Realty Gift Fund, Chase Magnuson, also toured abandoned buildings in Fulton County last week to look for opportunities for future development. Magnuson and CRG President and CEO Ronald Peters have known each other since Peters worked in real estate in California in the 1990s.

Peters said there are properties in Fulton County that could be put back on the tax rolls and used to create jobs if creative ways to resolve the problems that have caused them to lie dormant can be found. Magnuson said his charity has funding available to fix “underperforming or environmentally impaired properties” so they can be sold.

RGF is a 501(c)3 that promotes the charitable giving of land and property by donors interested in tax deductions. There are three basic ways this happens:

  • RGF resells donated properties. The profits from those sales – after the cost of improvements and marketing needed to make the sale happen, are distributed as gifts or grants to charitable organizations.
  • RGF buys properties as “bargains,” enabling the seller to get a tax deduction for the difference between the appraised fair market value and the bargain price.
  • If a seller is stuck with a contaminated property, RGF tries to negotiate an arrangement with regulators and the owner that results in the cleanup and release from future liability claims so the property can be used productively again. Ideally, the negotiated arrangement results in a financial benefit for both the owner and RGF.

RGF is Fulton County CRG’s first diamond member. Patriot Bank is a platinum member with a $2,500 contribution and there are currently five gold members with $1,000 annual contributions. The economic development agency is in a membership drive for 2016-2017 and currently has 46 paid members, plus pledges from half dozen more businesses.

Membership donations start at $100 a year. Membership benefits range from complimentary passes to CRG’s annual networking event to advertising and blog space on the CRG website.

Gloversville microbrewery takes shape 

Microbrewery to open in Gloversville: From left, Matt Sherman, Nick Sherman and Casey Oare, the brains and muscle behind Stump City Brewing. PHOTOGRAPHER: DANIEL FITZSIMMONS

Microbrewery to open in Gloversville: From left, Matt Sherman, Nick Sherman and Casey Oare, the brains and muscle behind Stump City Brewing. PHOTOGRAPHER: DANIEL FITZSIMMONS

Originally published in The Daily Gazette

By Daniel Fitzsimmons, December 18, 2016

For brothers Matt and Nick Sherman, along with their childhood friend, Casey Oare, nearly every weekend for the past three years has been spent building a shared dream conceived nearly six years ago in the Shermans’ garage: to open a brewery together that Gloversville could call its own.

Standing in the now-functioning brewery and taproom recently, which lacked only the finishing touches, the trio — and Stump City Brewing — have come a long way from the garage where they experimented with different homebrew recipes and fantasized about doing something bigger.

“Our motto is ‘from the ground up,’” said Matt Sherman, 34, a reference to the do it yourself-ethos that informs nearly everything they do, from building the structure that houses the brewery and taproom themselves to slogging through the mountains of state and federal paperwork required to operate a brewery.

The other defining feature of Stump City Brewing is their devotion to Gloversville and the surrounding area, and their drive to source everything — from the ingredients in their beer to construction materials — locally.

The bar in the taproom is made from the trees that were cleared to make way for their building. The ceiling is lined with corrugated sheet metal, giving it a rustic look, that a friend had stockpiled and given them. The plank floor is made of reclaimed wood from a nearby house that was gutted.

The project took three years’ worth of weekends because all three men have day jobs. Matt Sherman is a school counselor, Nick Sherman sells bus parts, and Oare is a paramedic and firefighter. Weekends were all spent bringing the dream to life.

Stump City is also taking advantage of New York’s farm brewing law, which provides incentives like decreased permitting requirements to New York-based brewers in exchange for the brewers sourcing a portion of their ingredients inside the state. The purpose of the law is to spur hop and grain production in the state and increase demand for local products.

Under the farm brewery law, at least 20 percent of the brewery’s hops must come from inside the state, and 20 percent of all other ingredients must be native to New York. Those ratios increase to 90 percent each in 2024.

But the Shermans and Oare are already there, sourcing 90 percent of their grain bill from a farm outside Rochester, and all of their hops — for now — from Goddard Tree Farm in Johnstown. Nick Sherman, 30, said there’s a need for increased hop and grain production in the state, which is ideal for growing such crops.

“It’s just a matter of convincing these farmers that there’s money to be made in growing those crops,” said Nick Sherman. “The startup costs are high.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, their name is local too. Before the area was called Gloversville it was known as “Stump City,” after all the trees that had been cut down to supply bark for the leather tanning process.

The brewery is located on West Fulton Street extension, behind the Sherman family home on land donated by the Shermans’ dad, Jerry Sherman, who is also a partner in the brewery and provided funds to help get the project off the ground.

“We grew up playing in these woods,” said Nick Sherman, looking out the back door of the brewery.

About $13,000 in additional funds was raised through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, which Matt Sherman said was crucial to the finishing of the brewery.
“Without the Indiegogo this wouldn’t have happened,” he said, noting that contributors, depending on how much they donated, will receive perks like Stump City clothing and gear or even the chance to brew an original beer.

And while other crowdfunding campaigns might draw donations from around the world, virtually all of the donations made to Stump City were from friends, relatives and others within the group’s orbit.

“I don’t think there’s one donor we don’t know,” said Matt Sherman. “The support in the community has been huge.”

“We all grew up here,” said Casey Oare, 31. “And for the people who stayed there’s a certain amount of pride being from the area, and we want to be a part of that.”

The group’s goal is to sell beer in their taproom and at local beverage centers where people can fill up their growlers — large, reusable glass containers used to store beer for personal use — with Stump City beer. Eventually they’d like for the brewery to support one of them as a full-time employee, and from there start increasing capacity, which currently stands at around 31 gallons per batch.

They currently have three brews that will be in regular rotation at the taproom; their Cayadutta Cream Ale, which they said is a good entry point to craft beer, a pale ale and a red ale.

Oare said there’s lots of buzz around when the taproom will open, and that he gets questioned by local residents on when they’ll be able to come in for a beer.
“Everybody wants to know when we’re opening,” Oare said.

The group said they want to do a soft opening for family, friends and supporters in the coming weeks, and open the taproom to the general public in the spring.
But they’re in no rush. The Shermans and Oare take a lot of pride in the beer they make, their local roots, and building something that those in Gloversville and the surrounding area can take a measure of ownership in.

“We want to make people proud,” said Matt Sherman. “We want people to be able to say, ‘that’s my beer.’”

When people of vision work together

Mohawk Harvest Cooperative Market is a vivid demonstration of the good that can happen when people of vision work together. To secure the downtown market’s front and center Main Street location, a group of private citizens purchased a building in a foreclosure auction and formed a corporation to act as landlord. The co-op’s rent is tied to its revenues, giving the nascent business the strength to grow, succeed and provide downtown Gloversville with a stable anchor store.

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What is on your wishlist for the next phase of Gloversville’s evolution?

More people living downtown? What kinds of stores, businesses and services? Join the conversation by posting your constructive comments on FCCRG’s Facebook and Twitter with #GloversvillePositive. (You’re also welcome to share the good things the city already is.)

Read more about Mohawk Harvest Cooperative Market in this Gloversville Leader-Herald article about founding (and outgoing – in more ways than one) co-op general manager Chris Curro:

The Start of Something Big
Chris Curro’s vision has made Gloversville a better place

“Chris had a keen understanding of how downtowns work and what’s necessary to keep downtowns working the right way.” Ron Peters, FCCRG President

By JASON SUBIK, Business Editor, Published Dec.11, 2016

GLOVERSVILLE — At Chris Curro’s checkout counter, conversation was almost always on the menu. Whether it was talking about a new locally made product or the hidden costs to retailers from credit card transactions — the freshness of locally grown food from the Mohawk Valley Produce Auction or the importance of going corn-syrup free or fair trade versus free trade — it was always about more than just the sale.

“So many people enjoy talking to Chris,” Mohawk Valley Cooperative Market President Bob Galinsky said. “After he announced he was leaving, I looked at all of the comments people made on Facebook, so many people talked about their conversations with Chris at the register, how much they enjoyed that. At any other store, how many people talk about their conversations with the clerk at the grocery store?”

Since the Mohawk Valley Cooperative Market was first conceived in a small meeting of about 15 people at the First Presbyterian Church on West Fulton Street in 2009, Chris Curro has been its only general manager . Co-op Vice President Vince DeSantis was there when the market was formed and was part of the decision to hire Curro.

“It was a unanimous decision and kind of a no-brainer to hire him. He wanted the job, and he said he would be the general manager and work for free for the first three months, so for the first three months, he worked for no pay at all and said we could decide what to do after that,” DeSantis said. “He put the thing together. There have been a lot of people involved in the co-op, but I don’t think the co-op would have really thrived without him, because not only did he have an understanding of the store in the beginning, the things to order, how to fill the shelves, but he also had an innate sense of business and the third thing he had was a physical toughness and an energy to put in a lot of effort and a lot of time. For all of the years that we’ve been open, he has worked way, way above and beyond what anyone would expect for an employee, for a manger like that. He put his heart and soul into it.”

Curro announced last week that Jan. 31 would be his last day as general manager for the co-op and that he was moving to another state to pursue a new opportunity. The Mohawk Valley Harvest Co-op has announced it has hired Sean Munk, an assistant manager at the store with a background that includes a degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park.

But Curro’s decision will affect more than just Mohawk Harvest.

He served on the Center for Regional Growth’s board of directors and over the past seven years had become one of the leading voices in the movement to revitalize downtown Gloversville.

DeSantis said it was originally Curro’s idea to move the co-op from its first location, a smaller store at 51 N. Main St., to the location of the former Open Window Gift Shop in the Schine building, which at that time had been acquired in a foreclosure auction by the Crossroads Incubator Corp. DeSantis said the relocation of Mohawk Harvest proved to the catalyst that motivated a collection of private citizens to purchase the Schine building for $70,000 and form a corporation called Schine Memorial Hall LLC, which acts as the landlord for the co-op, allowing its rent to be tied to its revenues. That has allowed it to grow and succeed, providing downtown Gloversville with a stable anchor store.curro

“There were several alternative places that we were considering, and Chris said ‘this is a natural place for the co-op’,” DeSantis said. “From the first week we were in that store we knew it was the perfect place. And I really believe that things have started to progress because of the co-op’s existence and the new energy that we feel in Gloversville, the new attitude has been because the store has stood the test of time — it’s been there for going on eight years — and it gives you a physical example of what a downtown can look and feel like.”

Moving on

Curro said he plans to move to Arizona, where a friend lives, and that he has big plans for when he gets there, but he won’t yet say what they are.

He said he’s leaving for personal reasons and said he’s moved many times, living in places like Madison, Wisc., where he went to college, as well as California, and his decision to move to the Fulton County area in 2007 from Sioux Falls, S.D., was also due to personal reasons.

“My wife, at the time, got a job here and my brother lived in the Saratoga-area, and I knew the area from having visited here several times. I knew it was a beautiful place, and I knew it had a lot of history,” he said.

Curro said his professional and educational background before working at Mohawk Harvest was in teaching. He said he was a high school tutor working as part of grant-funded program at Centro Civico in Amsterdam when he randomly heard from a friend about a meeting in Gloversville to discuss the possibility of creating a food co-op market.

“I said, ‘I’ve got nothing to do tonight’, so I went,” he said. “During the planning process I thought, these are a lot of really good people with some really great ideas and super intentions and they wanted to make our community more livable, more walkable, the kind of place anybody would want to call home, and I said I wanted to be a part of that.”

Curro said he tried to take the principles he learned teaching advanced placement economics as a high school teacher and put them into practice in a retail store. He said the co-op started with about 100 members and a loan from a retired dairy farmer. After operating at its first location for almost two years, it moved to 30 N. Main St. in the Schine building, and the business grew tremendously.

“We doubled our sales in the new spot and the next year we grew by 50 percent and then the next year we grew by 35 percent, so we continued to grow,” he said.

Curro said he recalls many of the moments from the early years of the store, like moving all of the inventory of the former location in shopping carts, discovering 30 N. Main St. still had a hardwood floor under two layers of sub-flooring, and battling an early plumbing problem and trying to plug a leak with his finger.

“I wanted to take what I had taught, economic theories, and put them into practice, but the real revelation was how economic theory meets human relationships because this store, like any good business, is really about the customers. If you don’t know them, if you don’t listen to them, if you don’t understand what they want and get to know them personally, it won’t work,” he said. “The co-op mission for us was local, healthy food with an orientation toward the community, because its community-owned and I took that vision to heart. Before we moved [out of 51 N. Main] our membership had doubled, which showed the community was supporting it, and we’ve since more than tripled that doubling, to about 625 members and the members represent about one-third of our customers. Last year, we had more than 19,000 transactions, so people are finding something of value here.

Galinsky said the co-op recently had a membership drive over the summer and added 30 new members. He said co-op members have access to special discounts at different times of the year and if the co-op turns a profit, which he said it has a couple of times, it can issue a dividend to members. He said most of the store’s revenues have been channeled into growing its product lines with new equipment, products and employees.

Curro said there’s more than $600,000 worth of equipment at the Mohawk Valley Harvest and he believes the co-op is poised for additional growth after his departure.

“It’s very hard, to leave, because this has really become one of my creative outlets, but with that said, it’s being placed in such good hands. The new GM, Sean Munk, is more experienced in retail than I was. He’s got more experience in food than I’ve had and I think he can take it to the next level,” he said. “If this business succeeds, I think the community succeeds. I said this on the CRG board, Gloversville is just the biggest downtown that we have, if it takes off, not only do you have a region in focus, but you have the model for the next downtown, whether it’s downtown Mayfield, downtown Johnstown, whatever, Amsterdam, Northville. The goal here was to prove a concept, that you can put together a high-quality food establishment, purchasing locally,  and bring people to a downtown location that a lot of people had given a bad rap to, and I think we proved the concept to be true and it’s replicable.”

Fulton County Center for Regional Growth President Ron Peters said he recruited Curro for a position on the CRG board after seeing Curro’s commitment to local products. Peters said Curro will be missed.

“Chris was a real asset to our board, and he contributed heavily to our thought process. Chris had a keen understanding of how downtowns work and what’s necessary to keep downtowns working the right way. Chris is very good at that,” he said. “We’re looking around now [for another downtown advocate for our board]; we’ve got some feelers out there. He’s not leaving until February, so we’ve got a little bit of time.”

Fulton County, New York – Positive

You have one life.
Don’t spend it on someone else’s dream.
You have the fire. You have the potential.
You will rise to the challenge.

Fulton County believes in you.
This is your new frontier
The place where your side hustle becomes the next big thing.

We are positive.

We are ready for you now.
Fulton County has the plan and the infrastructure,
the untapped resources,
and affordable architectural treasures to start your imagination as well as your business.

Fulton County welcomes the risk takers
the visionary creators
the artisans
the passionate entrepreneurs.
We honor bold ideas and unconventional thinking.
We offer you inspiring vistas
44 lakes,
a sense of community
and places you can afford to call your own.
This is where you start.
This is positively your time.
This is positively your place.
This is YOUR Fulton County.
Fulton County, New York

Tryon Technology Park

Fulton County, New York, introduces Tryon Technology Park, a transformative, 515-acre business opportunity in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. With Tryon’s state and local expedited approval process, you could be breaking ground on 212-acres of the lowest-priced shovel-ready land in the state in 30 to 60 days, with hundreds of additional acres available for future development.

Tryon is located in a pristine, wooded environment… where a company can thrive, take a 180 turn away from a high-cost, high-stress environment.

Fulton County Administrative Officer Jon Stead: “One thing people are starting to learn about the Tryon Technology Park is it’s right in New York’s Technology Triangle, and it’s within striking distance and easy reach of 70 million customers all around the Northeast.”

Fulton County’s Targeted Industry Analysis identified seven Industry Clusters for Tryon compatible with existing businesses and the site’s resources: Biomedical R&D, Food & Beverage, Headquarters & Business Services, Health Care Products & Services, Electronics, Renewable Energy and Software & Media.

Tryon Technology Park’s first tenant was Vireo Health, which purchased 20 acres in 2015 to manufacture pharmaceuticals from cannabis. In less than a year, it doubled the size of its facility.

Josh O’Neill, Vireo Health, Chief Business Development Officer: “When you look at the value of the land, with all the infrastructure in place, we could not find anything better in the state of New York. It’s highly accessible from I-90 and other major highways. It’s got great infrastructure. There’s new water and sewer, gas, three-phase power and a new county road that’s well-maintained year-round.”

Jim Mraz, Fulton County Planning Director and Executive Director, Fulton County Industrial Development Agency:
“The property at Tryon is also very affordable. At a $20,000 per an acre price, it is the lowest price per acre of comparable land anywhere in the region.”

The origins of Tryon are a unique story of cooperation by state and local governments. When the state closed the Tryon Juvenile Detention Facility in 2011, it was an economic blow to Fulton County.

In an effort to turn that negative into a positive, Fulton County officials petitioned the state for control of the property. Two years later, Tryon was deeded over to the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency for redevelopment as a technology park.

Josh O’Neill, Vireo Health, Chief Business Development Officer: “It’s a beautiful place. A really great community. I feel like Fulton County as a whole has been very welcoming to our business and the people who have moved here from other states, they’ve found it to be a really high quality of life. They’ve found good, affordable housing. The feedback on the schools has been very positive. We’ve got a lot of young families on our team and for them to locate to Fulton County from other states was a big step for them and it’s been an extremely positive experience.”

At the center of the park is the Tryon Regional Business Training and Incubator Center, adding training, classroom, office and workshop space for businesses to utilize. Tryon also has the benefit of being geographically close to its partner in training and workforce development, Fulton-Montgomery Community College.

Dr. Dustin Swanger, President, Fulton-Montgomery Community College: “FM has a long history of strong workforce development programs and customizing programs for local businesses, like Benjamin Moore and Townsend Leather.”

Tim Beckett, senior vice president, Townsend Leather:
“We continually rely on them for training, customized classes, and working with our people to help further our staff in growth here in the area.
Fulton County as a whole, any time we’ve needed anything, in terms of economic growth or sustaining our workforce or bringing in new business, they’ve been a good person to rely on and go to for grants, money, even locations and building and equipment.”

Fulton County hosts a vibrant array of biomedical manufacturers, global food processors and light manufacturing companies in three existing business parks. Adding Tryon to that portfolio creates unparalleled advantages for companies searching for an inviting, centrally located home with plug and play infrastructure.

Contact us today to find out more about Tryon Technology Park.
Fulton County New York – Positive.

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. • 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, or@DanFitzsimmons on Twitter.

Agenda set for export seminar

Export seminar sponsored by the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth and TD Bank

Growth Strategies:
Expanding Your Business Internationally

Holiday Inn Johnstown-Gloversville
November 15, 2016

This export seminar includes networking and learning opportunities about potential markets, logistics, available export financing and cutting through red tape while establishing new lines of business between Fulton County, New York, and the world.

8:30 a.m.
Networking and Registration (Continental Breakfast)

9:00 a.m.

  • Ronald Peters, President & CEO, Fulton County Center for Regional Growth
  • Robert Davey, Regional Vice President for Upstate NY, TD Bank

Managing Payments and Finalizing the Sale

  • Strategies and options for sending and receiving money from overseas – Maria Aldrete, Director of Foreign Exchange Services, TD Securities LLC
  • Strategies for boosting international sales, managing risk and structuring transactions that benefit both buyers and sellers - Andrea Ratay, Vice President, Global Trade Finance, TD Bank

10:00 a.m.
Global Logistics and Supply Chain Management: Discussion with Moderator

  • Supply Chain management: How to move your products internationally with efficiency and strategies to address some of the challenges facing companies – Tom Valentine, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Mainfreight USA and Carl Erickson, Director of Supply Chain, Plug Power Inc.

10:30 a.m.
Getting Ready to Export: Federal & State Assistance

  • Export Assistance from the federal government- Toni Corsini, NY/NJ Regional Manager, Office of International Trade, U.S. Small Business Administration
  • Export Assistance from the state governmentEdward Kowalewski, Director of International Investment Programs & Private Sector Liaison to the World Bank,  Empire State Development

11:00 a.m.
Legal Environment of Exporting/Importing:

  • How to protect your intellectual property and what to be mindful of from a legal perspective David Miranda, Attorney, Heslin, Rothenberg, Farley & Mesiti P.C.

11:30 a.m.
Break and Networking

12:00 p.m.

12:30 p.m.
Special Guest Speaker 

  • Current state of U.S. and Global Economic Landscape – Implications for importers and  exporters– Brittany Baumann, Economist & Macro Strategist, TD Securities LLC

1:00  p.m. Final Words

  • Cedric Carter, Vice President & Senior Relationship Manager, TD Bank


Business Beginnings Fall Networking Event

Fulton County business owners:

No. 22 Bicycle Co. Production facility in Johnstown, NY

No. 22 Bicycle Co. in Johnstown, NY

FCCRG’s fall networking event…

“Business Beginnings”

will be

November 17, 2016
Holiday Inn, Johnstown at 6:00 p.m.

The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich Vireo Health Chief Horticulturalist Chuck Schmitt checks out some cannabis seedlings Wednesday at the Tryon Technology Park.

Vireo Health in Tryon Technology Park


The event will celebrate the newest businesses in Fulton County — 5 years or younger.

To be one of the featured businesses, please register here:

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For more information or to become a sponsor of this event, contact Becky at 725-7700 ext. 100 or email: