Road construction and utility work are planned this year at Fulton County’s newest business site, a former state youth detention facility that once employed 350 people.
The county’s Industrial Development Agency took ownership of the former Tryon Residential Center early this year.
Shut down by the state in 2011, the site holds the potential to serve a variety of roles in business, IDA director James Mraz said.
When it was operating, the Tryon Residential Center pumped a payroll of between $15 million and $18 million into the county, he said.
“Our hope is to just try to recapture the lost jobs,” Mraz said.
Two major initiatives will be undertaken this year with that goal in mind: construction and marketing for the new Tryon Technology Park and Incubator Center.
There are roughly 60 buildings scattered throughout the 500-plus-acre campus off County Route 107.
In order to yield a “shovel-ready” site for businesses, plans are being developed to build internal and external access roads that would enable individual businesses to make use of the buildings.
A circular perimeter road will also be built, and water and sewer piping must be repositioned to best serve the facilities, Mraz said.
The IDA has a $2 million grant available from New York state to help pay for the work; there is also funding available through the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council.
Design work was under way in January, and Mraz said the hope is to begin construction this summer and have the site ready for businesses by year’s end.
Most of the buildings are built of concrete block. They vary in condition, but many could be used in the short-term for storage and for small offices. But the property, which has access to ample water, sewer and electricity, holds promise for bigger ventures.
“We view the true value of this facility being the underlying land. We’re going to market the underlying land to new companies in hopes that we’ll be able to bring a new business here,” Mraz said.
There is one section of the site, referred to as Building 3, that could stand on its own and serve a firm interested in amenities like an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a gymnasium and a 250-seat auditorium.
Building 3 was once a centerpiece for the Tryon Residential Center, with classrooms, shop space and offices.
“We want to retain that complex of buildings,” Mraz said.
The other major initiative tied to the project is marketing the site to potential businesses.
During 2013, Fulton County’s economic development principals met with Michael Mullis, CEO of Tennessee-based J.M. Mullis Inc, a consulting firm that finds places for businesses to set up shop.
Mullis offered praise for several positive aspects of the region’s economic development potential, including the available workforce, water and sewer service, access to major transportation corridors and markets and available sites.
One critical need Mullis identified is organizing and implementing a plan to get the Tryon site on the minds of CEOs.
The county is requesting proposals for a study that will evaluate the entire site, catalog its utilities and identify which types of businesses it could suit. Mraz said he’s expecting marketing company proposals to be submitted by early March.
The new Tryon Technology Park and Incubator Center will add to existing sites ready to welcome businesses this year.
There are 20 lots available at the Crossroads Business Park on Decker Drive in Johnstown ready for building.
The Crossroads Industrial Park on Corporate Drive in Johnstown has two buildings available, one with 13,440 square feet and the other with just over 3,400 square feet of space.
The county is also marketing sites suitable for manufacturing, distribution, warehousing and food processing at the Johnstown Industrial Park at 160 Enterprise Road in Johnstown.
Reach Gazette reporter Edward Munger Jr. at 843-2856 or firstname.lastname@example.org.