FMCC to review START-UP plan

JOHNSTOWN -Fulton-Montgomery Community College President Dustin Swanger recently provided the Board of Trustees with a draft of the SUNY START-UP NY plan, which would establish tax-free zones for businesses within the region.

The draft will be reviewed by all associated parties before being sent to the State University of New York and then Empire State Development for approval.

The Campus Plan for Designation of Tax-Free Areas includes three different sites: the Tryon Park in Johnstown, the Florida Park Extension in Amsterdam and the FM Foundation Property located along Route 67 and Bendick Corners Road in Amsterdam.

According to the plan, the Tryon Facility, recently assigned to the Fulton County IDA, has the infrastructure needed to be redeveloped into shovel-ready sites where new businesses can locate, while the Florida Park Extension is also ready for development and offers easy access to the New York state Thruway. The FM Foundation Property consist of approximately 60 acres of land.

Swanger said he has worked with economic development officials from the two counties and the properties are owned by the IDA in each county.

“The relationship between FM and the economic development officials of each county is exceedingly strong, and therefore aligning the development of these properties with START-UP NY and the mission of FMCC is an easy task,” the plan says.

Up to 200,000 square feet outside the FMCC campus would be included in the tax-free zone, although Swanger said any of the land already on the college campus that could be used for a potential business wouldn’t be included within the limits of the off-campus sites.

START-UP NY, an initiative by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is allowing communities across the state to establish tax-free sites for new and expanding businesses. Those businesses would operate 100 percent tax-free for 10 years, which would include no income tax, business, corporate, state or local taxes, sales and property taxes, or franchise fees.

A business moving into the tax-free zone would have to be a new company in New York state; a company from out of state that is relocating to New York; or an expansion of a company that already has employees in New York state.

According to the website, the business would be required to create new jobs in the first year, bring positive and economic benefits and align to the mission of the campus they’re considering.

The businesses would partner with the higher-education institutions programs in the SUNY system.

However, the website said certain types of businesses are excluded from the program, including retail and wholesale businesses; restaurants and hospitality; professional practices like law firms and medical practices; and energy production and distribution companies.

Swanger said the businesses moving into these sites have to be specialized in some kind of production. For the Global Village location he believes a microbrewery would be an ideal development for the property. However, the plan states the property is not included within the square feet allocation because it is owned by the Foundation of FM.

The plan says the college has made investments in state-of-the-art facilities including the clean room, which has positions itself to help the region grow in the areas of nanotechnology, manufacturing and healthcare as well as others.

It also goes on to say the businesses could be manufacturers of goods, parts and materials that use high-tech manufacturing processes in their operation; manufacturers or suppliers to GlobalFoundries or other nanotechnology companies that use a clean room in their processes; agribusinesses or food processors that use high-tech equipment in preparing foods for market; distribution facilities that incorporates high-tech equipment; or start-up businesses that focus on the development of a new product for the market.

Swanger said despite the microbrewery and other suggestions the college is really open to any type of production business moving into the available sites.

The various boards, unions and municipalities associated with the properties will be given an opportunity to review the campus plan and provide input, but they don’t need to approve the plan for the process to continue, Swanger said.

“This is a review process,” he said. “The plan is going to be reviewed by a platoon of people and they have 30 days to review it, and then it would go to Board of Trustees for their approval.”

He said after the Trustees’ approval the document would then go to SUNY for approval before ultimately reaching Empire State Development for final approval.

“Then a company would file an application and we’ll go through a similar process,” Swanger said.