Economic development officials from Fulton and Montgomery counties are excited about 2012, looking toward creation of shovel-ready sites and welcoming new businesses lured by huge state dollars.
The coming year could be a watershed one for area development, as officials cash in on longtime proposed and pitched projects.
The Fulton County Economic Development Corp. is working simultaneously on trying to find space for companies from Rhode Island and the Midwest.
The former Callaway Golf building at the Crossroads Industrial Park is shown Dec. 9. Fulton County Economic Development Corp. President Michael Reese recently said a company from the Midwest has a purchase agreement on the building.
"I think we've seen the bottom of the economy and now companies are forecasting into the future," Fulton County Industrial Development Agency Chairman Joseph Gillis said. "It's been a long tunnel, but for the first time we're starting to see light at the end of the tunnel."
Both Fulton and Montgomery counties are still trying to develop a proposed Route 30A regional business park on 300 acres of town of Mohawk land that could be annexed into the city of Johnstown. That effort aimed at getting the town and city to agree to a revenue-sharing agreement should continue into 2012.
The new Gloversville Walmart Supercenter could be opened later this year, with an economic spinoff effect sure to follow. Glove Cities officials cemented an agreement at the end of 2011 that paves way for unrestricted sewer connections in areas around the site.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month announced $8.2 million for economic development projects in Fulton County, and about $3.7 million for projects in Montgomery County. Fulton County's awards include $2 million for a proposed Tryon Technology Park and Incubator Center at former Tryon Residential Center in Perth. Montgomery County projects include $750,000 for Canadian commercial and industrial LED manufacturing company ProTerra Lighting for its move to Amsterdam.
The Tryon Technology Park and Incubator Center is receiving about half of the projected $4 million redevelopment cost. The project on County Highway 107 in Perth would consist of reconstructing the existing loop road, installing new water and sewer lines, and creating 300 acres of land to be divided into shovel-ready sites.
The incubator center would use 35 to 40 existing buildings for low-cost space for start-up businesses, storage and warehousing. The Tryon site has 250,000 square feet of indoor space available, with buildings ranging from 2,000 to 24,000 square feet. Each building has its own heating and electrical system.
Fueled by $5 million in possible low-cost financing made available through the state, foam producer M.H. Stallman Co. from Providence, R.I. is considering a move to Fulton County.
An existing and growing Fulton County business - yogurt manufacturer Fage USA - is anxious to get started this year on a $100 million expansion project at the Johnstown Industrial Park. The company is expected to double its 150-employee workforce.
"I'm fairly optimistic," Fulton County Economic Development Corp. President Michael Reese said of 2012. "I've seen, in the last few months, renewed activity. Spaces are available in the community."
Reese also said new investment is on the horizon, as the national economy seems to be growing.
His corporation - the EDC - also will be undergoing further changes internally in 2012. The EDC in December formally dissolved its membership, changing the agency to a loan-handling subsidiary of a new parent corporation - the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth Inc. The Crossroads Incubator Corp. - a separate corporation that has worked with the EDC on real estate matters and has no members - also will serve as a subsidiary under the umbrella of the Center for Regional Growth.
Economic development officials said this new setup creates more checks and balances within the agencies. The restructuring, they said, comes in response to the May 2010 scandal in which two executives received bonuses not authorized by the EDC or CIC boards of directors. Movement on the reorganization was accelerated after the scandal, which involved former EDC Senior Vice President Jeff Bray and former CIC Executive Vice President Peter A. Sciocchetti. Both were fired in July 2010.
Reese said the state Department of State will be issuing a certificate of incorporation for the Center for Regional Growth in 2012.
The biggest recent award from the state for Fulton County was the $5 million available to M.H. Stallman Co. Reese and company President James Stallman said they are working on a deal.
"We're going to be up in the area," Stallman said Tuesday. "We're waiting on the final proposal from the Fulton County EDC. One way or another, we're going to do something. We're excited about the area."
Reese said the original idea under the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council's strategic plan was to locate M.H. Stallman in the old Callaway Golf building at the Crossroads Industrial Park. But this week, he alluded to another company from the Midwest locating at the Callaway building, and that there may be a need to move M.H. Stallman elsewhere.
"There's a company looking at the old Callaway firm," Reese said. "There has been nothing transactioned. That could happen fairly soon."
He said the company from the midwest, a distribution company, has a purchase agreement on the Callaway building.
Reese also said the EDC is still working on exciting loan packages for 2012, including a recent loan to a group renovating the former YWCA building in Gloversville.
Montgomery County in December was given seven awards, including $1.3 million to assist in the expansion of Embassy Millworks, a wood-milling operation that specializes in high-end locker-room construction, and to acquire and renovate the long-vacant Mohasco Mill Complex in Amsterdam.
Another Montgomery County project involves $903,021 going to Quandt's Foodservice Distributors for construction of a multi-temperature warehouse.
Montgomery County Economic Development and Planning Director Kenneth Rose said those projects, and the ProTerra lighting project, are the main ones on the county's radar screen for 2012.
"Obviously, we have three big projects," Rose said.
He said his office also is anxious to get started this year on the engineering work for a $25,000 project involving Amsterdam development of River Walk, providing a shoreline trail along the Mohawk River.
"There are a couple other ones we're working on," Rose said, involving large retail development on Route 30 in Amsterdam.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org