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New life for old detention facility

JOHNSTOWN, FULTON COUNTY--Instead of housing delinquent teens, an old detention center will be used to train college students and hopefully bring new jobs to Fulton County. The Tryon Juvenile Detention Center was closed by the State of New York in 2011, it was then given to Fulton County and so far, has laid dormant.  Construction recently began though to update sewer lines and reconstruct roads in order to turn the campus into a new technology park and business incubator.

Still surrounded by giant barbed-wire fences, the county is hoping the detention center will be a bit more welcoming, especially to businesses.  So far, the Fulton County IDA has secured a $2 million grant from The Empire State Development Corporation to make structural changes to the campus layout, tear down old dormitories and make sure the underground infrastructure is up to date.  It is now looking for an additional $120,000 in federal grant money to complete a renovation of one of the main buildings on the campus that would be used as a small business incubator.

The Fulton-Montgomery Community College has committed to starting an HVAC program in that building if the funding comes through,"we have heard directly from local employers, and when I say local, I mean our counties and beyond that and they are starving for folks who are ready in the HVAC curriculum and it has recently gone on the labor department's high needs program so there's no doubt that there are jobs available for folks who have these skills," says Dustin Swanger, The President of FMCC.

"We all know that when you do chip fab when you do nano technology, temperature is key, things have to be clean and they have to be at the right temperature, so having skilled people in HVAC, is key and it'll be a growing demand, it already is," U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer said at a press conference about the plan on Thursday.

Once FMCC is in its location, the county believes other businesses will follow and bring local jobs with them. At one point in Tryon's history, the detention center employed about 400 people, county leaders are hoping once the campus is fully repurposed it will employ hundreds of local workers.  Senator Schumer has reached out to the Northern Border Regional Commission, the agency the federal grant was applied for through, to ask them to support it.  A final decision is expected next month.
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