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North Country Regional Council approves recommended projects

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POTSDAM - The North Country Regional Economic Development Council (NCREDC) has approved its list of recommended projects to be awarded Infrastructure Funds at its meeting held at SUNY Potsdam.

Pending submission of Consolidated Funding Applications (CFA), the funding will provide the resources necessary to implement critical water and sewer infrastructure projects in the North Country that align with the NCREDC’s Strategic Plan. The nine projects awarded within the region total $2.5 million in funding that will leverage nearly $26 million in additional investment.

The NCREDC also adopted its Opportunity Agenda criteria during the meeting. The Opportunity Agenda is a region-wide strategy that will invest new and existing CFA resources in projects that foster a business environment and provides residents with the opportunity to enter the workforce; and provide North Country residents with the tools they need to overcome economic barriers and fully participate in the state’s economic revitalization.

Based on public input and the engagement of local government officials, the Council identified specific requirements projects must meet to be considered as part of the North Country Opportunity Agenda, including the ability to: help move impoverished people into jobs; promote private-public partnerships in job investments; overcome a particular challenge to economic participation; and help revitalize distressed communities.

“The Regional Council continues to move strongly forward across the board, awarding funds for several important water projects around the north country, setting the groundwork for successful implementation of the Governor’s Opportunity Agenda, and providing our input on several economic development matters such as the current process to determine use classifications for the former Finch Pruyn land in the Adirondack Park and the importance of new forms of state support for Fort Drum,” said Garry Douglas, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce and council co-chair. “The summer will now center around a series of updates and forums in each of the seven counties, the continued implementation of all of our approved projects, and encouraging the best possible applications in the current CFA funding round as plenty of excellent applications will help secure maximum funding for the region later this year.”

Additional Council Actions

In other action, the council adopted a resolution by Hamilton and Essex counties regarding the former Finch Pruyn lands acquired by the state for the forest preserve.

The state is presently accepting public comments regarding the eventual classification of the land for various types of public use and activity. The council concurred with the position of Hamilton County and the five towns—Indian Lake, Long Lake, Newcomb, Minerva, and North Hudson— who host parts of the land, seeking to accommodate various recreational activities in appropriate areas, as well as the preservation and use of existing structures on the property.

The NCREDC endorsed St. Lawrence County’s proposal designating the former GM site east of Massena as a part of the CSX Railroad Select Site program. The designation will add the site to the CSX marketing plan, promoting the region’s assets to prospective expanding companies to encourage development and create jobs.

A resolution encouraging Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature to financially support the U.S. Department of Defense Army Compatible Use Buffer Program (ACUB) at Fort Drum was approved by the council. The ACUB Program established buffer areas of farmland and natural land around Fort Drum by limiting development, which allows the 10th Mountain Division to train and ready its soldiers.

The council also approved the reassignment of 2012 funds for a previously identified priority supporting the Adirondack Film Society and small community movie theaters. Coordinating with the Adirondack North Country Association, which is engaged in private fundraising for the project, the Adirondack Economic Development Corporation will administer a short-term loan fund for theaters that need financial assistance to convert their projection equipment to digital technologies and upon completion of the program, will relend the funds to businesses across the region for start-up or expansion projects.

In addition, the NCREDC provided an overview of the status of its priority projects, as well as the state’s Innovation Hotspots/Regional Incubator Program. The Innovation Hotspots Program provides a statewide competition to create or designate “innovation hot spots” that will support inventors and entrepreneurs as they grow their businesses, by creating tax-free zones and a collaborative environment to work and share best business practices. Winning incubators will receive financial support services from the state, including legal, technical and business support services, as well as up to $1.25 million for the Business Incubator and Innovation Hot Spot Program which is available through the Regional Councils.

“The Innovation Hot Spot initiative introduced by Governor Cuomo meshes with the approach Clarkson University has taken over the last several years to commercialize academic research,” said Anthony G. Collins, president of Clarkson University and council co-chair. “In collaboration with industry and other higher education institutions, Clarkson drives high-tech innovation through its Shipley Center for Innovation and a business incubator located in Peyton Hall in downtown Potsdam. The North Country institutions of higher learning work well together and welcome the opportunity to further partner with the State and match efforts in order to accelerate the transition of technology from laboratories to the marketplace that will attract and retain sustainable jobs.”

CFA Workshop

Following the meeting, the council hosted the first of three Consolidated Funding Application workshops for potential applicants to learn more about the CFA process and how to access up to $760 million in economic development funding from agency programs through one application for Round 3 funding. The CFA application period opened to applicants across the seven-county North Country region Monday. The deadline for CFA submissions is 4 p.m. Aug. 12.

The CFA is available online at https://apps.cio.ny.gov/apps/cfa/. CFAs will be reviewed by the NCREDC based on their alignment with the council’s strategic plan and will be reviewed on a technical basis by the State Agency Resource Team.

Additional CFA Workshops are as follows:

June 26 in Plattsburgh - 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Clinton Community College, 136 Clinton Point Drive, Plattsburgh

June 28 in Watertown - 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Dulles State Office Building, 317 Washington St., Watertown

The NCREDC, which is composed of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, is one of 10 regional councils across New York state that serve as a single point of contact for economic activity in the various regions. The NCREDC was named a “Top Performer” in 2012 in addition to their Strategic Plan being named a “Best Plan Awardee” in December 2011.

One hundred fifty-two projects across the region have been awarded a total of $193.4 million in state support through the Regional Economic Development Council initiative and Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process in the statewide competition. The Plan and priority projects can be found at www.northcountryopenforbusiness.com.

Infrastructure Fund Projects Awarded

Plattsburgh, Clinton County - Route 3 Pump Station Improvement - $86,000: Pump station serves major commercial and industrial businesses in Clinton County. Station improvements will allow for future growth and supports retention of existing jobs and job creation along the corridor.

Ticonderoga, Essex County - John Street Neighborhood Combined Sewage Overflow - $178,000: Eliminate sewage pollution creating a better quality of life in a neighborhood located near downtown, the LaChute River, and Lake Champlain. Reduce tax rates by eliminating the need to treat storm water with chemicals.

Watertown, Jefferson County - Wastewater Treatment Plan Disinfection Facility - $500,000: NYS DEC issued a revised SPDES Permit in 2011 requiring the installation of a seasonal disinfection facility. NCREDC funding lowers the burden on residents and businesses.

Clayton, Jefferson County - Sewer Rehabilitation and Pumping Station Improvement - $500,000: This project supports infrastructure needs of the Clayton Harbor Hotel (90 full-time jobs) and related townhouse development. It also creates sufficient infrastructure for business growth in the Village while supporting existing businesses. Currently, large scale economic development opportunities are limited due to infrastructure capacity issues.

Malone, Franklin County - Sewer District #2 - $72,000: NYS DEC issued a consent order to ALDIS, owner of a commercial strip mall on Route 11, to repair a failing onsite wastewater collection system. If a new system is not installed, ALDIS anticipates closing the strip mall, which houses its grocery store. New infrastructure will also support new jobs at the pump station.

Heuvelton, St. Lawrence County - Wastewater Collection System Improvements - $500,000: Upgrades will make it more feasible to market the former Heritage Cheese plant to a new business. With Losurdo and SunOpta located in the Village of Heuvelton, there is a possibility that a similar value-added agriculture firm might locate in this facility as well creating additional jobs for this Village as existing businesses look at expansion and adding new product lines.

Saranac Lake, Franklin County - LePan Sewer Main Replacement - $190,000: Village water and sewer customers have recently seen rates increase by 39% over the last two years in order to pay debt service on a State-mandated $12 million water system upgrade. The Village is seeking numerous sources of funding to alleviate the burden to rate payers. Because of the burden to rate payers, the impact to regional employers, including three biotech firms, the threat to regional public health and environmental quality, Myriad RBM would like to expand its space, but expansion cannot occur until after this project is completed.

Inlet, Hamilton County - Clean Waters Sewer District Expansion - $53,800: Expansion will help to ensure The Wood’s Inn’s ability to be maintained as a commercial property, preserving 29 jobs and two co-located businesses.

Bloomingdale, Essex County - New Pump Station and Wastewater Treatment Plan Improvements - $422,000: Lack of wastewater infrastructure has prevented existing businesses to expand and new business to develop. As primarily being a bedroom community, the housing stock and business potential cannot diversify due to the lack of municipal wastewater. Current users pay $845/year; this funding will lower their rates.

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