RAMPING UP — Danfoss Silicon Power President Claus Petersen speaks to company and government officials at SUNY Polytechnic Institute in this October 2017 file photo. At the Danfoss facility at SUNY Poly, three production lines are expected to be in place by the end of the year, according to Mohawk Valley EDGE President Steven DiMeo. (Sentinel file photo by John Clifford)

Danfoss, Griffiss Park parcel among key topics at forum on economic development in region

Published Sep 20, 2018 at 4:00pm

MARCY — Further redevelopment for a 20-plus acre Griffiss park location that already has a Stewart’s Shop, and upcoming production at the Danfoss Silicon Power facility on the SUNY Polytechnic Institute campus, were among topics at an economic development forum.

Those two projects were noted by Mohawk Valley EDGE President Steven DiMeo along with several other EDGE-related initiatives Wednesday at the forum, which was at SUNY POLY and included project updates from five other economic development organizations.

Regarding the Griffiss park property by the corner of Floyd Avenue and Route 825, RFPs (requests for proposals) will “go out shortly to developers” for possible further development of sites there, DiMeo said. The location at one time included a former Air Force facility known as Building 240, which was demolished. A newly built Stewart’s Shop opened there last year, occupying a portion of the overall location.

At the Danfoss facility in a SUNY Poly building that had been developed as Quad-C (Computer Chip Commercialization Center), three production lines are expected to be in place by the end of the year, said DiMeo. The company, a silicon-carbide power module manufacturer, has 37 of 116 tools installed, DiMeo remarked. It currently employs 24 at the SUNY Poly site, with additional hiring planned in the first quarter of 2019 as the company ramps up its production lines, he added.

Among other projects, DiMeo said there are multiple leads being pursued to find occupants for available first-floor space at a new Griffiss park building that is starting construction as a joint venture of the NYSTEC company and Griffiss Local Development Corp. He anticipated that most if not all of the space will be filled before the building is finished, in terms of having occupants confirmed.

Besides DiMeo, other presentations Wednesday were by Rome community and economic development planner Kiva VanDerGeest, including redevelopment efforts for the Rethink Woodhaven plan on upper Floyd Avenue that was approved last week by the Common Council; Empire State Development regional director Michael Reese; Utica Department of Urban and Economic Development commissioner Brian Thomas; Mohawk Valley Economic District (MVEDD) executive director Steve Smith; Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency executive director John Piseck.

About 85 people attended the economic development forum, co-sponsored by the Genesis Group of the Mohawk Valley Region and the Chamber Alliance of the Mohawk Valley. It offered economic development agencies an opportunity to “share with us...good news...important information” about their activities that have a “positive impact on our region,” said Raymond J. Durso, Jr., executive director of the Genesis Group.

In opening remarks, SUNY Poly interim President Grace Wang emphasized the college’s commitment to assist in the region’s economic growth, including programs to prepare student for various industry opportunities.

Among remarks during the presentations:

• Reese reviewed impacts for the multi-county Mohawk Valley region over the past seven years from the state’s economic development funding program that has included CFAs (consolidated funding applications).

Among regional projects receiving funding during that span, 30 percent have been completed, 45 percent are in progress, and 24 percent have been terminated including projects that “fell apart” during the process, Reese said. But he also pointed out that 95 percent of the terminated funding has been “re-purposed” for other regional projects.

• Smith outlined MVEDD’s evolving efforts during its 52 years, which have included coordinating federal grant and loan fund opportunities plus involvement with a Community Energy Engagement Program in conjunction with the state.

The community energy program, to help residents and businesses become more energy efficient including potential assistance opportunities, will include a workshop session for the public on Oct. 4 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Mohawk Valley Community College’s Rome campus. The program “can benefit everyone in this room,” said Smith.

Overall, Durso said the presentations showed “we have a vibrant region in the Mohawk Valley.”