By JACOB TIERNEY
CANTON - The North Country Regional Economic Development Council has announced its priority projects for this years round of competitive grant applications, listing 16 projects regionwide with up to $25 million on the line.
Ten regions across the state all submitted proposals that will be evaluated in Albany. The top five will receive $25 million each for their priority projects, while the rest will have to split $25 million between them.
The NCREDC has been among the states biggest winners in the first two years of the program, and is hoping for a repeat performance with a focus on tourism in this years applications.
Two Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority initiatives are listed as priority projects, including $1.2 million marketing campaign to draw Canadian tourists across the border to the north country.
The authority is also seeking $475,000 to improve St. Lawrence County bridges and install grain silos in Ogdensburg to promote agricultural shipping.
We are excited that they are on the priority list, and we think that they are important projects for the north country, said port authority Deputy Executive Director Frederick S. Morrill.
The Development Authority of the North Country, Watertown, also has an agricultural focus with its priority project. The group seeks $1 million to create a loan fund that could be used to create or expand agricultural businesses across the region.
Anything that has to do with agriculture or production of any type of crops, were looking to help expand businesses that utilize those resources, said Michelle L. Capone, Director of Regional Development at the development authority.
Maple producers, wineries and more will be eligible for loans if the grant money is received, she said, calling the NCREDCs decision to name the fund a priority project an indication of the importance of agriculture in the area.
Its the regions recognition that agriculture and value-added agriculture is a major part of our economy in the north country, and its a recognition that these businesses have special needs as well, she said.
Also in Watertown, COR Arsenal Street Company of Fayetteville, seeks $5 million to demolish the buildings on the site of the former Mercy Hospital, clearing the way to start building apartments.
Most projects are asking for state funds to cover only part of their expenses, with the rest being covered by private investment or other public sources.
The state will make its decision in late December, determining the fate of these projects and others like them statewide.
The following is the complete list of the NCREDCs priority projects, along with the amount of money requested from the state:
n Value-Added Agriculture Program, a region wide initiative by the Development Authority of the North Country. $1 million.
n Bombardier Mass Transit Employee Training, Plattsburgh. Asking $40,922 in public funds.
n Inn on Schroon Lake. $819,000.
n Bionique Testing Laboratories Facility Expansion, Saranac Lake. $700,000.
n Wild Walk Phase 2 by the Wild Center, Tupper Lake. $464,000.
n Lake Flower Lodging, Saranac Lake. $2.2 million.
n Plattsburgh International Airport Terminal Expansion. $6.49 million.
n Seagle Music Colony Facility, Schroon Lake. $189,000.
n Adirondack Museum Exhibition Master Plan Phase 1, Blue Mountain Lake. $2.95 million.
n Port of Ogdensburg Agribusiness Capacity. $475,440.
n Hotel Saranac. $5 million
n Adirondack North Country Product Branding, a region wide initiative by the Adirondack North Country Association. $100,000
n North Country Market NY Joint Marketing Initiative, A region wide initiative by the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority. $1.09 million.
n Cycle Adirondacks, an annual week-long bicycle tour through Essex, Franklin, Lewis, Hamilton, Oneida, and Herkimer counties by the WildlifeConservation Society. $211,750.
n SterRx manufacturing facility, Plattsburgh, $1,101,000.
n Mercy Hospital redevelopment by COR Arsenal Street Co., $5 million.
The NCREDC endorsed two priority projects in support of its Opportunity Agenda:
Jefferson- Lewis Machinist Training Program
In addition, the council chose the following project to compete for the Innovation Hot Spots program:
North Country Innovation Hot Spot at Clarkson University. An Innovation Hot Spots work group led by Clarkson University is competing for one of five Hot Spots across the state to advance transfer of technology from the regions academic community to commercialization.
Finally, the council endorsed two priority projects in alignment with its Cleaner Greener Communities plan:
Removing Barriers to Institutional Wood Pellet Heating
North Country Multi-County Implementation Plan
The following list of Other Regionally Significant Priorities and Initiatives are also included in the progress report, calling for focused attention to move these projects forward or address these needs in various ways, in addition to the Priority Project list put forward for direct funding:
Regional Micro-Enterprise Incentive Program
Regional Arts and Interactive Learning
St Lawrence Psychiatric Center – Center of Excellence
The full report can be found online at www.northcountryopenforbusiness.com.