FULTON — Local officials are seeking preliminary design specifications for a manufacturing facility located at the former Nestle site in the city of Fulton in an effort to better attract business to the area.
Operation Oswego County (OOC) and the County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency (COIDA) are planning to hire Syracuse-based C&S Companies to develop a site plan and building profile for a manufacturing facility on the Fulton site. Officials say the site plan and design would strengthen future applications for state funding opportunities.
OOC Executive Director L. Michael Treadwell asked the county Economic Development and Planning Committee for permission to spend $15,500 on the study, which would review existing site mapping and utility information, identify preferred locations for a 20,000 to 30,000 square foot manufacturing facility and develop cost estimates for the project.
“That was a long, long-term industrial site,” Treadwell said of the former Nestle location. “It is geographically located and has the infrastructure and part of that could be used as a manufacturing site.”
The main purpose of the study would be to determine which portion of the site would be best to put such a facility, Treadwell said, noting speculative building is a strategy referenced in the economic advancement plan commissioned by the county last year to attract and grow manufacturing.
“This concept of a (speculative) building was also used in the city’s application for [the state Downtown Revitalization Initiative] this year,” he said. “This would certainly strengthen their application in 2019 if there is another round by having this study done and showing some real evidence that we’ve moved forward with this project.”
If commissioned, the study would identify two to three acres for a facility, Treadwell said, and develop a site plan and layout to construct the building. Officials say the plans could help market the site to future prospective tenants.
Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. said a manufacturing facility at the site “sounds great,” but noted OOC and COIDA officials and members of the common council still need to speak about the project and work out details. Woodward said after spending millions of dollars demolishing the buildings and cleaning up the site, Fulton is in need of landowners and tenants that will generate revenue for the city.
“We need something there that pays taxes,” Woodward said.
Any property sale would need to go before the common council, the mayor said. Previous discussions with the COIDA included the possibility of a small business incubator at the site, Woodward said, but city officials are weary of selling any of the property to tax exempt entities.
Though manufacturing in New York State has declined precipitously in recent decades, Woodward pointed out Huhtamaki, K&N Foods and a number of smaller manufacturers have survived in Fulton. Manufacturing could provide jobs, but the mayor said the rising costs of doing business make it more and more difficult for manufacturers to remain in the state.
“They can’t really survive unless they have all kinds of free stuff,” Woodward said. “The workman’s compensation and the power costs pretty much killed that.”
There are a number of parties interested in the former Nestle site, Woodward said, noting it’s likely most prospective tenants or buyers would want to see the site cleaned up before making a commitment.
Woodward said the city recently receive another $200,000 from State Senator Patty Ritchie, R-Huevelton, to continue the cleanup of the former Nestle site. The city intends to take down the remaining building in the center of the site, but Woodward said asbestos must be removed from the structure prior to demolition.
“We’re going to take that down and get all the debris off the site,” the mayor said. “I want to get it done as soon as we can.”
The county Economic Development and Planning Committee unanimously approved spending $15,500 on the C&S Companies study, and the measure will move forward to the county Finance and Personnel Committee next week before going in front of the full Legislature for a vote.