Regional council seeking $25M for projects for 6-county area

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The Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council is recommending 27 projects in Oneida, Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Otsego and Schoharie counties for $25 million in state awards. 

A total of 12 projects in Oneida County made the list. They range from the conversion of older structures in Utica into mixed use buildings (retail and commercial on the lower floors and residential on the upper ones) to industrial expansions to infrastructure improvements in support of projects already in the pipeline. 

The total cost of all 27 projects would be nearly $528.1 million with non-state investment totaling $503 million, according to the council

Overall, the “priority projects” in the next round of state economic development awards would support the retention and creation of 4,998 jobs, says the council’s 2016 progress report, which is titled “Cool Places. Smart People.”

“We’re very optimistic about this slate of projects,” said Jennifer Waters, Mohawk Valley EDGE vice president of communications. EDGE provides staffing for the regional council.

Transit vehicle refurbishing

Among the Oneida County projects is one dubbed “Project Charmander.” According to the council’s report, there’s interest in starting a business to rehab transit vehicles. An estimated 80 jobs would be created.

Here’s what the report says about Project Charmander: “Identifying the region’s legacy in and continued support of the transportation equipment supply chain, applicant is proposing to reinvest in one of the region’s largest existing manufacturing spaces and grow that niche. In order to further catalyze growth in this cluster, the applicant will create a complex that will serve as a home for updating, refurbishment and re-powering New York’s transit vehicles. 

“Through the development of this new complex, the applicant will not only increase its footprint locally, but will also add dozens of jobs and attract other complementary firms that will co-locate and create synergies necessary to make transit vehicle refurbishment a thriving industry in the Mohawk Valley. This project will tap into an existing workforce of roughly 700 highly skilled and trained former manufacturing employees struggling to find similar work in this area.”

The council recommended a state award of $450,000. Total cost is put at $4.4 million.

No details are provided about the project’s backer. Nor is a location identified.

At one time Daimler Buses North America, Inc., successor to Orion Bus, assembled intracity transit buses in a multi-building complex in Whitestown. Daimler announced in April 2012 that this location was closing. 

The German auto giant said because of the loss of business from major customers and overall decline in the intracity bus manufacturing industry, the company was forced to exit the business of manufacturing and selling mass transit buses. 

Other priority projects

Among the other Oneida County priority projects included in the council’s application:

Mohawk Valley EDGE proposes to assemble the downtown Utica parcels needed to enable construction of an 830,000-square-foot hospital for Mohawk Valley Health System.

Specifically, this investment will acheive: Acquisition of up to 96 individual properties in the campus target area; demolition of structures; construction of a publicly owned shared parking structure; and engineering and development of infrastructure to support the medical campus.

An award of $5.5 million is being sought. Total cost is $66 million. This latter figure does not include construction of the new medical center.

The Marcy Nanocenter natural gas main infrastructure project involves construction by National Grid of a 12-inch steel main gas main that will run from Barnes Avenue in Utica to the Marcy-SUNY Parkway. The line will serve the ams AG computer chip wafer fabrication plant along with full build out of the Marcy Nanocenter site and growth of Quad C and SUNY Poly Innovation Acceleration Center. 

An award of $5.1 million is being sought.

NCI Group, Inc., intends to expand its American Building Components facility on Route 233 in Westmoreland to accommodate a new product line that will manufacture structural frames for pre-engineered metal buildings. The creation of approximately 80 full-time positions is anticipated.

An award of $1.7 million is being sought. Total cost is $10.4 million. 

118 Liberty Street, LLC, proposes the redevelopment of three buildings in Utica. This mixed-use project includes retail, office and commercial space, and parking. This investment also will create about 58 apartment units on the upper floors.

An award of $1.8 million is recommended. Total cost is $18.5 million.

Doyle Hardware, LLC, proposes to renovate the building at 330 Main St., Utica, into a mixed use development. The owner plans 55 apartments on the top three floors, with retail and office use on the ground floor. 

An award of $1.2 million is being sought. Total cost is $11.8 million.

Central Association for the Blind, Inc., 507 Kent St., Utica, intends to construct a facility that allows the agency to grow employment opportunities and vision rehabilitation services for people. The current facility also will be reconfigured to allow expansion of manufacturing, packaging and service employment for people who are legally blind.

An award of $800,000 is being sought. Total cost is $8.5 million.

Square Stamping Manufacturing Corp., 106 Remsen Road, Barneveld, proposes to acquire land adjacent to its current facility and construct a 30,000-square-foot addition, which will be used for production and storage of raw and finished products.

An award of $325,000 is being sought. Total cost is nearly $3.3 million.

— The city of Utica is proposing to demolish a vacant city-owned building at 1900 Bleecker St. so a business park can be created on the parcel. This proposed development has the potential to capture relocating businesses affected by the building of a new hospital complex elsewhere in Utica.

An award of $280,000 is being sought. Total cost is $1.4 million. 

Brightwaters Farms, Herkmer Road, Utica, will update its greenhouses and related facilities.

An award of $200,000 is being sought. Total cost is $1.5 million.

Metal Solutions, Inc., 1821 Broad St., Utica, proposes a laser technology expansion. 

An award of $100,000 is being sought. Total cost is $1.1 million. 

Vincent Ficchi plans the adaptive reuse of a vacant historic structure at 98 Genesee St., Utica, in the Bagg’s Square district. Planned improvements include replacement of the mechanical system and installation of new electrical wiring from the basement up through the top floor.

An award of $75,000 is being sought. Total cost is $450,000.

What’s next

The 2016 awards — the sixth annual round — will be announced by the state before the end of the year. This round will feature more than $750 million in state funding and tax incentives, including up to $175 million in capital grants and up to $70 million in tax credits for projects and activities identified by the 10 councils around the state as regional priorities. 

Additionally, more than $510 million from state agency programs will be awarded through the Consolidated Funding Application process.

“Our progress report, ‘Cool Places. Smart People,’ strongly demonstrates the council’s commitment to downtown revitalization and creating diverse, creative, innovative and safe communities,” said Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council co-chairs Robert Geer, senior vice president and chief operating officer of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and Lawrence T. Gilroy III, president of Gilroy, Kiernan & Gilroy, Inc., in a joint statement. “We are confident that our proposal will secure important resources for the Mohawk Valley and look forward the Round VI REDC awards later this year.”

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