PERTH - U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer on Thursday toured the 515-acre site of the proposed Tryon Technology Park and Incubator Center, urging the Northern Border Regional Commission to provide federal funding for the project.
In particular, Schumer is pushing for a $120,000 federal grant local officials are seeking as part of $200,000 in renovations planned at Tryon to turn one of its buildings into regional business training center.
"This is a perfect fit for what they're supposed to do," Schumer said during a press conference at the site of the proposed center. "It's a great idea."
Fulton County Planning Director Jim Mraz, left, looks on as U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer points to a map of the proposed project at the former Tryon site in Johnstown on Thursday.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, center, conducts a press conference flanked by Fulton County Planning Director Jim Mraz, left, and Fulton-Montgomery Community College President Dustin Swanger at the former Tryon site in Johnstown on Thursday.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Schumer, right, answers questions at a gathering of community leaders Thursday at Fulton-Montgomery Community College.
The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich
Following the Tryon tour, Schumer met with community leaders at Fulton-Montgomery Community College. The college wants to site a new Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Trades Program at the proposed training center at the Tryon site.
"FMCC does a very good job not just teaching students, but teaching students for when they get out," Schumer said.
Proclaiming Tryon "ready for new life," Schumer was flanked by local officials at Tryon that included Fulton County Industrial Development Agency Executive Director James Mraz and FMCC President Dustin Swanger.
The Tryon campus is being transformed to attract business. The IDA, in conjunction with FMCC, has applied for a $120,000 grant through the Northern Border Regional Commission. The commission - a combination federal-state agency - issues grants to strengthen local economies and encourage job creation and workforce readiness. Mraz said grant funding will go toward renovation work at Tryon
"The number one thing we're looking for in the Mohawk Valley and the Capital Region is good-paying jobs," the senator said. "Some good jobs are beginning to come back and we're going to need some facilities."
The IDA, which is working with Fulton County government, owns the Tryon site. Officials are currently working on infrastructure changes to transform the site into a series of shovel-ready sites for businesses to move into and a hub for business incubation.
"This used to be a juvenile detention facility," Mraz told the gathering.
Schumer said the county needs these federal funds to complete a series of renovations that will convert the building into lab and classroom spaces for a new Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Trades Program. The senator said bringing this trade program to the Tryon facility will jump-start the entire project and encourage more start-up businesses and jobs to come to Tryon, which would be a major economic boost for the entire region.
FMCC officials have said they may locate some technical classroom space at the planned Tryon Technology Park and Incubator Center, starting with the fall 2015 semester.
Swanger, also chairman of the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth board of directors, said the need for local skilled labor is apparent.
Schumer, D-N.Y., said some work is needed to get the Tryon site "in shape."
The Tryon project is currently in its first phase of construction work being done by Jablonski Excavating of St. Johnsville. The state previously awarded Fulton County $2 million for the initial infrastructure work. The county is also seeking an additional $1 million from the state for a second phase of work.
New Jersey-based DCG Corplan Consulting LLC is also working on a marketing plan and analysis for Tryon.
"I'm here to pledge support for the entire project, but first to get this NBRC funding," Schumer said.
Swanger said he's contacted the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services and other colleges about the potential HVAC-refrigeration curriculum for FMCC.
Schumer met at FMCC with community leaders, including members of the county Board of Supervisors, the Fulton Montgomery Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and the local CEO Roundtable, at FMCC's College Union.
Schumer told officials to draw up their three biggest state mandate concerns and get them to his aides. He also commented on issues ranging from Medicaid to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org