JOHNSTOWN - Work is under way on Fage USA's expansion of its yogurt factory.
"They've already started the site work for phase one," city Fire Chief Bruce Heberer said at a city council meeting Monday.
At the meeting, the council approved a second grant agreement with Fage for state money to help pay for the $120 million expansion, which is expected to create 150 jobs.
The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich
Members of the Johnstown Common Council review the Fage USA expansion project Monday night at City Hall.
Fage is expanding its manufacturing facility at 1 Opportunity Drive in the Johnstown Industrial Park.
The company was waiting for local regulatory approvals before it expanded. In recent weeks, the company secured new sewer allocation and water agreements through the Glove Cities and the sewer board.
The Common Council on Monday approved a grant agreement involving $750,000 in state money for the project.
City Treasurer Michael Gifford told the council the city - on behalf of Fage - also is processing another
$750,000 grant through the state Housing Trust Fund Corp.'s Office of Community Renewal.
The agreement "simply puts everybody on the hook for doing the right thing," Gifford said.
In order to access the state funding, he said the company has to expand and create the number of jobs it says it will create. It's possible the city would have to pay back the money if Fage fails to create the jobs.
Company officials said they plan to double production with a new building, increasing Fage's 240-person work force by 150 employees. The project will include the addition, a new parking lot and a whey pretreatment plant.
Gifford said the city previously hired Orion Management Co. of Amsterdam, run by grant consultant Nick Zabawsky, for administration of the first $750,000 state grant the city received to help Fage with its expansion.
He said the city probably again will hire Zabawsky with the second grant.
Heberer, the city's code enforcement officer, told the council the Fage expansion will be done in three phases.
"We accepted their construction plans for phase one," Heberer said.
He said the first phase will involve building milk-receiving areas with two bays and a new road around the building. The second phase will entail additions of laboratory and research areas inside the existing building.
The third phase will include the 180,000-square-foot addition to the plant.
Heberer said construction workers will work throughout the winter at the Fage site. He said the company will use dynamite to the clear the site for the addition.
"They'll be doing blasting all winter," the chief said.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.