LAKE CLEAR - Dan Lundin sees a lot of potential in the town of Harrietstown's Adirondack Regional Business Park.
He'd also like a little company.
Lundin is president of Bionique Testing Laboratories, located at the end of a two-lane, dead-end road into the business park, which sits on town-owned land next to the Adirondack Regional Airport. The contract testing company is one of only two businesses currently occupying the roughly 15-year-old park.
Shayn Alexander, laboratory director at Bionique Testing Laboratories, leads town of Harrietstown Councilwoman Nichole Meyette and Councilman Ron Keough on a tour of the company’s facility in the town’s business park Thursday. Bionique President Dan Lundin, right, listens in.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
Lundin said he'd like to see that change.
"This park has so much potential, and in some respects it's undiscovered," he said Thursday. "We've been advocates for this park. It serves us well. We'd like to foster the concept of looking at this as an Adirondack regional science park. It has that potential."
"It's a hidden jewel," added Shayn Armstrong, Bionique's laboratory director. "It's just, how do you get there? How do you develop the park?"
Those are questions that Harrietstown officials, who toured Bionique's operations on Thursday, have struggled to answer since the business park was created.
But town officials believe they've cleared a major roadblock to attracting new businesses to the park. Last year, the state Adirondack Park Agency approved a 19-lot subdivision of the park, including the creation of seven "shovel-ready" development sites.
Now there's a nascent biotech cluster forming in the Saranac Lake area that includes Bionique, the nonprofit Trudeau Institute, and a pair of Lake Placid biotech companies the village of Saranac Lake has lured to Main Street: Myriad RBM and Active Motif. Town leaders would like to capitalize on that momentum.
"I think we're in a different place to try and generate some new direction and a game plan to move the park forward," said Councilman Ron Keough, who took part in Thursday's tour with Councilwoman Nichole Meyette.
The big question for the town, Keough said, is whether it should market and recruit businesses to the park, "or do we somehow find a way, a mechanism, that we can make that happen outside the board.
"My philosophy is, we need to put in place a process and a direction and a foundation which is not dependent on the whims of board members as they come and go," Keough said. "If you don't have enough support of the board members, and the energy and commitment to make any project happen, it isn't going to happen."
Keough said the town needs to see what other resources are available to help it grow the park. He said there have been unofficial discussions with the village about whether its Local Development Corporation could be involved, as well as with the Adirondack Economic Development Corporation. AEDC played a key role in creating and financing the business park and managed it for the town until 2003.
"I think those are resources that the town, as an entity, needs to look at," Keough said.
The business park is about 10 miles outside of the village, which puts Bionique on the outskirts of the "cluster." Its more remote location could be a deterrent to another biotech company interested in moving into the area, but Lundin said an isolated, rural site could also be attractive to the right company.
"There are independent labs that are producing product, producing testing services and can afford to exist in a location in this order," he said. "For us, it works well from a business perspective, and there's a tremendous attraction to working in the Adirondacks."
"The proximity of Active Motif, RBM, Trudeau, us - it is a cluster whether it's all within one village or within the region," Armstrong said. "We all live in the same surrounding area, and we all want to be here. That's why we're here."
Armstrong speaks from experience. He worked in Lake Placid for Upstate Biotechnology until it closed in 2007, then followed the company it was bought by (Millipore) to California. After two years, Armstrong decided he wanted to come back to the area and got a job at Bionique.
He's one of 18 employees working out of the company's 9,500-square-foot facility, which opened in January 2000. Prior to that, Bionique Testing Laboratories was located in what's now the Edenfield and Snow tax and accounting service buildings on state Route 3 near Trudeau Road, just outside Saranac Lake. The company, which Lundin has been president of since 1990, was originally formed as an offshoot of the W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center (before it became Upstate Biotechnology), where Lundin had worked as laboratory supervisor. Bionique performs specialized testing for the pharmaceutical, biotech and research community.
"We do a certain type of sterility check for cell cultures," Armstrong said. "We're testing for a specific organism called mycoplasma."
"It is a covert and hidden contaminant, and not easy to isolate and identify," said Lundin. "It's an organism that the biopharma and research community certainly doesn't want to bring into their labs. So they choose to send samples out to us, ask us, 'Does this or does this not contain mycoplasma?' It's our niche technology and our specialty."
Bionique works with hundreds of clients, mostly in the U.S. and Canada. Lundin said business is going so well that the company is looking to expand and potentially add a couple of more employees.
"This park has worked very well (for) us, relative to our needs and what we're looking to accomplish," he said.
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.