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Herkimer County IDA fills business parks, turns to brownfields

Donna Thompson, Special to the Daily Sentinel
Posted 2/27/23

The Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency’s business parks have filled up in recent years — and that has the IDA looking at other opportunities.

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Herkimer County IDA fills business parks, turns to brownfields


HERKIMER — The Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency’s business parks have filled up in recent years — and that has the IDA looking at other opportunities.

“We’re sold out in the Schuyler Business Park,” said IDA Chief Executive Officer John Piseck. The IDA had purchased a 188-acre parcel in 2020 to add to the existing park located just off of Route 5 and worked with the town of Schuyler to build an access road. It didn’t take long to fill the new space.

In 2021, the Fountainhead Group and Pepsi began construction of warehouse distribution facilities in the new section. Wilcor International decided to expand its building in the original park and is currently hiring, Piseck said.

Last year, Home Depot announced a $9 million project to build a 52,000-square-foot distribution center on an 11-acre parcel in the new section and has put in a foundation, he added. Plans are also in the works for the remaining parcels of land, with announcements by those businesses still to come.

“We’re looking for a convenience store,” Piseck said, adding that while the IDA doesn’t usually handle retail, there are mobile home parks near the business park, and those residents would be happy to have a convenience store a short distance from their homes. “There’s good traffic flow.”

When Hale Manufacturing moved out of the Frankfort 5S North Business Park in 2021, Amazon moved in, and its new Amazon’s Last Mile distribution center is up and running, he said.

He noted that the IDA also purchased the Russell farm across the road from the already-full Route 5S South Business Park and that there is interest in that land.

“We need to add water and sewer service. We’re waiting for the health department to give its approval.”

People are also interested in the Dolgeville business park run by the IDA. Infrastructure for water and sewers will be built as part of the project. The village of Dolgeville will have more water and better water pressure because of a water tower. It will also have a better water supply for fire protection.

Piseck, who has been in his current position for five years now, has seen some 2,500 jobs added in the county, and he sees good things happening here and in the Mohawk Valley Region.

“We’re in an excellent area, halfway between Albany and Syracuse, and we’re seeing the ripple effect,” he said. “It’s a good place to live, work and raise a family.”

There is more to the IDA’s job than bringing jobs to the area, Piseck points out. “You have to look at the whole picture. Economic development is changing. You have to look at the workforce, quality of life, schools and housing.”

The IDA worked with the town of Webb to provide affordable housing for people working in the Old Forge area and is currently working with local municipalities to clean up and redevelop brownfield areas.

Brownfield Opportunity Areas

Early this year, the New York State Department of State announced the awarding of a $173,250 grant to the village of Herkimer to complete its Brownfield Opportunity Area Plan for a 32-acre area along its North Main Street corridor from Albany Street to German Street. The total will amount to $200,000 with funds contributed by the IDA, Piseck added.

According to the grant announcement, planners will look at how to address blight, safety, and aesthetics of the structures in that area, as well as the problems caused by a weak economy, low employment, and poor community engagement.

A separate Facebook page will be set up and meetings scheduled to encourage community engagement, according to Herkimer Mayor Dana Sherry.

“It’s great to partner up with the village on this,” said Piseck.

He noted that people often do not see the value of “another study,” but these studies are steps in the process of seeking funding for projects.

The IDA has also been working with the village of Dolgeville on a brownfield opportunity area that includes land on both sides of East Canada Creek. Poverty, unemployment, and high vacancy rates in both residential and commercial properties are among the concerns. Local residents were invited to meetings to discuss the plans and offer input.

The involvement of local municipalities is important, said Piseck, pointing out that had the village of Ilion not taken on ownership of the old Duofold property, that ownership would have passed to an overseas company and the structures would have continued to deteriorate. Now some developers want to redevelop the property.

The IDA has also been in contact with Ames True Temper, the owner of the former Union Tools site in Frankfort, and hopes to see that area developed, he said.

Venue study

A new project for the IDA is a venue study. After seeing the new Nexus Center in Utica, Piseck wondered if a center for events such as concerts and athletic events could be a possibility for Herkimer County.

“We reached out to Venue Strategies,” he said. The firm will assess whether this would be a possibility and where such a facility might be located. “And can we support it? I don’t know. They’re the experts.”


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