The announcement earlier this month that six global technology companies are spending $1.5 billion to create a new research center dubbed "Nano Utica" at the SUNYIT campus in Marcy should serve as a wake-up call for local officials and candidates running for office in the city of Johnstown and the town of Mohawk. The time to build a regional business park is now, and the two municipalities need to reach an agreement to make that happen.
Economic development officials in Fulton and Montgomery counties have made it clear they believe the area could be poised for economic growth spilling over from the nanotechnology hubs in Albany, which has a SUNY nanotechnology center, Saratoga County, which has the GlobalFoundries chip plant, and now Utica. But this opportunity is coming at a time when little space is available for development in the Johnstown Industrial Park and Montgomery County's Florida Business Park.
A new business park in Mohawk would solve that problem. The site is south of and adjacent to the Johnstown Industrial Park off Route 30A.
Two years ago, negotiations to build the park broke down between Johnstown Mayor Sarah Slingerland and Mohawk Supervisor Greg Rajkowski. The two sides had agreed in principle on a plan to allow Johnstown to annex the land for the park from Mohawk so the city could extend water and sewer services to it. Then, the city, the town and the two counties would split the tax revenue from any development inside the park. The sticking point was the length of the agreement. Leaders in Mohawk wanted the deal to go on forever. Slingerland wanted the deal to last for only a limited time, as many as 40 years, after which the city could assume collection of all property taxes.
Meanwhile, Fulton County supervisors are talking about setting aside $150,000 next year toward creation of the regional business park. Fulton County Planning Director James Mraz said the $150,000 project would be a two-county venture. He said National Grid could contribute $10,000 toward a railroad study involving the park, leaving $140,000 for Fulton and Montgomery counties to split. This may be a positive step.
After the elections in November, the new leaders in the city of Johnstown and town of Mohawk should resume negotiations for the business park and come to an agreement as soon as possible, even if that agreement includes a permanent tax-sharing plan. There is no time to waste.