$1.2 million in seed money awarded for 40-acre Ogdensburg greenhouse

pOGDENSBURG — Building a 40-acre greenhouse on surplus land at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center is an ideal use for the property, developers say, given its proximity to State Route 37, the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge and the availability of steam heat from a cogeneration plant on the psychiatric center grounds. /ppThe proposed high-tech, year-round facility could also benefit from the purchase of discounted electricity available from the New York Power Authority, according to officials involved with the project./ppEmpire State Development officials announced last week that Confluent Energies, a Massachusetts company specializing in advanced technology greenhouses, will be awarded $1.2 million through this year’s round of Regional Economic Development Council awards to help build a state-of-the-art agricultural facility near Route 37 and the St. Lawrence River./ppThe Confluent Energies greenhouse initiative in Ogdensburg is one of the private business development plans being given a thumbs up this year by state officials. /ppEmpire State Development, the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency, and Ogdensburg officials have been working with Confluent Energies for the past two years, according to St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency Director Patrick Kelly./ppThe company is proposing a multi-million-dollar investment to build a year-round hydroponic greenhouse on surplus land at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center, according to a 2015 REDC report highlighting the project. The city of Ogdensburg is in the final stages of negotiations with the state over transfer of the surplus property, known as Parcel A, on the psychiatric center grounds. The city is hoping to eventually convince the state to turn over hundreds of acres of idle property at the psychiatric center campus./ppMr. Kelly said the property’s location for a high-tech greenhouse is considered ideal by the company and by development officials because it is directly across from the Canadian market via the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge and has access to renewable energy sources through a cogeneration plant operated by AG-Energy on the psychiatric center grounds, and through a NYPA program that offers north country businesses discounted electrical rates./pp“There is the tie-in with the excess property, the potential for steam heat, the availability of low-cost electricity and a project developer with whom we’ve had a positive history,” Mr. Kelly said. “There are a lot of positive, potential attributes that we hope will come together to make this project happen.”/ppMr. Kelly said spearheading the greenhouse project for Confluent Energies is Dennis Brunell, the former president of the now idled Newton Falls Paper Mill. /pp“He had been the plant manager for the Newton Falls Paper Mill facility,” Mr. Kelly said. “He knows the area and we have worked with him before. He is a quality individual with a proven ability to move projects forward.”/ppA time frame for the greenhouse has not been identified, according to Mr. Kelly. He said the county IDA’s involvement so far has only been to help facilitate the project./ppThe 40-acre, year-round greenhouse would grow leafy green vegetable hydroponically to be shipped to U.S. and Canadian markets within a day’s drive of the facility, according to officials. The facility would market fresh produce to metropolitan markets across the northeastern U.S. as well as population centers in Ontario and Quebec, Canada./p

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