By LEVI PASCHER
Fulton County Express

JOHNSTOWN – The Fulton County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution on Monday supporting the creation of a pharmaceutical manufacturing company that would grow medical marijuana at the Tryon Technology Park and Incubator Center.
A representative of Empire State Health Solutions, Michael Newell presented the plans to the board and spoke about the benefits the project could have on the region if the company is granted a license to start operation later this year.
In July 2014, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a medical marijuana bill called the Compassionate Care Act. The licenses to manufacture and distribute the medicine is expected to be issued by the state later this year.
“The Board of Supervisors strongly encourages New York State to award [Empire State Health Solutions] a license to grow and cultivate medical cannabis and to manufacture medicines at the Tryon Technology Park and Incubator Center,” the county resolution reads.
According to a release issued by the company, Empire State Health Solutions is a New York based business applying to become a licensed manufacturer and provider of pharmaceutical grade cannabis-based medications. The medications are formulated to help patients suffering from a wide variety of medical conditions including ALS, epilepsy, cancer and other terminal illnesses.
Newell said the business must complete their license application by the end of May and they expect the five licensees to be announced around July, which would allow the company to start cultivating in October for the anticipated medical distribution in January 2016.
Since the state law doesn’t permit smoking the plant form of marijuana the company would extract the compounds of the drug to produce products that are permitted such as oils for vaporization, capsules, oral tinctures and syringes.
“We use a science based model to produce our medications,” Newell said.
The business has already executed a letter of intent with the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency to establish a pharmaceutical business at the Tryon Technology Park and Incubator Center. The company would be utilizing approximately 20 acres of land which includes an existing 15,000 sq. ft. building.
According to the resolution, the medicinal business would renovate the existing building to grow medical cannabis and construct two additional buildings on the site which includes a 20,000 sq. ft. greenhouse and a 50,000 sq. ft. office, lab and processing facility.
The Fulton County Board of Supervisors previously hired Development Concepts Group Corplan to conduct a targeted industry analysis to identify specific industry clusters that are best suited to locate in the Tryon Park.
Fulton County Industrial Development Agency Executive Director James Mraz said that analysis determined that biomedical research and development would be the number one fit for the development of the park.
County officials said they believe the proposed pharmaceutical business would boost the region’s economy by creating new jobs and expanding the existing tax base.
“It would create new jobs, it would create tax base and it would represent the first company to move to Tryon,” Mraz said.
“This is a great opportunity,” Gloversville 2nd Ward Supervisor Frank Lauria Jr. said.
If licensed, officials said the medical facility would employ at least 75 people over the next three years. Newell said those individuals would be locally hired and range from cultivators, laboratory, security and manufacturing staff.
He said he isn’t aware how many similar medical cannabis producers are going to be applying for the five licenses later this month.
According to the county resolution, each company issued a license to grow and cultivate medical cannabis will be authorized to establish four dispensing stations across the state to sell the medicines.
Newell said the company hasn’t determined if any dispensing stations would be located within this region but they did determine the Tryon park would be an ideal manufacturing facility due to it’s central location within the state.
“This would be about as centrally located as you can get,” Newell said.