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IDA project numbers improve

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The quantity of IDA-involved projects in the north country has improved, but numbers remain tepid.

According to an annual report released Monday by the state Authorities Budget Office, St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency had two projects approved in 2011, Jefferson County had two and Lewis County had none. That represented an overall increase from the year before, when Jefferson and Lewis counties had one project each and St. Lawrence had none.

The numbers remain a reflection of the times, St. Lawrence County IDA Executive Director Patrick J. Kelly said.

“There’s still a hesitancy and feeling of uncertainty in the economy,” he said. “I don’t think an increase of two qualifies as a quantum leap forward. The IDA doesn’t look at that and think we’ve achieved prosperity. You want to get to multiple projects.”

However, Mr. Kelly said, the two St. Lawrence County projects counted by the state represent progress as one — expansion of St. Lawrence Gas eastward into Franklin County — could show long-term payoff and the other, restarting of a yogurt plant in North Lawrence, has promise for agriculture.

“Those are two good projects,” he said. “Having growth to report on is a good thing. Our goal is to have more of those.”

The two projects cited by the state for Jefferson County likely were the 296-unit Beaver Meadow Apartments project by COR Development Co. and the proposed 394-unit Morgan Townhouses, Jefferson County Local Development Agency CEO Donald C. Alexander said. It also could have included funding from the Residential Communities Initiatives awarded by Fort Drum for housing projects.

The projects created 14 jobs in Jefferson County and 59 in St. Lawrence, according to the report.

The report does not include all that the IDAs do.

For example, it does not include projects funded by JCIDA, which is responsible for most of the IDA’s loan activity, Mr. Alexander said.

Mr. Kelly agreed.

“A lot of activity isn’t reflected in the report,” he said. “It’s hard to put a simple quantification on it.”

Lewis County IDA Executive Director Richard H. Porter said he had not seen the report yet.

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