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Regional council briefed on Regional Arts and Interactive Learning project in Potsdam

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POTSDAM - The North Country Regional Economic Development Council (NCREDC) arecently dvanced revisions to its plan that would build on the work already underway and continue the momentum in creating and sustaining jobs across the region.

Round 4 of the statewide Regional Economic Development Council process puts a focus on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Global NY initiative, which will recognize and reward plans that incorporate global marketing and export strategies.

Through the Global NY initiative and the NCREDC’s newly created Global North Country work group, council members discussed the tools and efforts needed to expand exports, international commerce activities and foreign direct investment in the region. Efforts underway now in developing the North Country’s plan also link to the Governor’s START-UP NY initiative.

During the meeting, the council was also briefed on Fort Drum and the ongoing Programmatic Environmental Assessment calling for a maximum reduction of 16,000 soldiers and civilians. The council believes that Fort Drum is the premier military installation of New York State and the northeast United States. As such, the council committed its full support to Governor Cuomo and New York State’s Congressional delegation in retaining and growing Fort Drum as a national defense asset and the only remaining base in New York State.

In addition, council members were also briefed on a proposal for the region’s first mixed-use venue providing cultural arts enrichment and interactive learning experiences to residents of the north country through the Regional Arts and Interactive Learning project (RAIL).

As an innovative collaboration between the St. Lawrence County Arts Council and the North Country Children’s Museum, RAIL is slated to occupy a historic building in downtown Potsdam that is currently owned and partially used by Clarkson University. Plans include the integration of new apartment residences, galleries, studios, arts incubator spaces, community assembly spaces and a virtual learning center that will feature entrepreneurial training experiences for business start-ups. This regional asset will also employ a version of the ‘hub and spoke’ outreach model, used in the NCREDC’s Innovation Hot Spot.

“The 2014 competition is coming up and we feel the north country is continuing to make remarkable progress on its regional plan, while also broadening and deepening the new spirit of collaboration and shared support across the seven counties which has come to be because of this process. We are continuing to make solid progress on all of our key projects and strategies, and we are well on our way to developing a new and important Global North Country plan, focusing on ways we intend to further build our already remarkable success as a region in the realm of international business, especially foreign direct investment from Canada,” said Garry Douglas, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.

“By leveraging the unique assets in the north country, public and private investments are coming together in unprecedented ways to spur job growth and generate new revenue streams that diversify our economy. The north country plan, for example, values and recognizes the role that active arts and cultural centers have in attracting innovators and nurturing innovative clusters for artists and craftsmen to thrive. Our advancement today of the Regional Arts and Interactive Learning Project, an innovative collaboration between the St. Lawrence County Arts Council and the North Country Children’s Museum, is an example of how we are creating vibrant communities and entrepreneurial pioneers,” said Anthony Collins, president of Clarkson University and co-chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.

The Regional Council session was open to public comment and questions. In addition, the NCREDC was also briefed on the progress of its work groups. The Workforce Development Work Group shared a study conducted by Clarkson University’s Graduate Consulting Group that assessed workforce needs among major employers.

As part of the council’s commitment to broad input into the process and planning, the Public Participation work group announced it has launched a new blog to keep council members, businesses, stakeholders and residents apprised of the latest council updates and activities, including its 2014 events, meetings and plans, as well as other news from around the region. The blog can be found here: http://ncredc.wordpress.com/

The council also endorsed a resolution voicing support for the Vermont Gas development that will bring affordable natural gas to International Paper’s Ticonderoga Mill.

Additionally, the group also passed a resolution supporting Senator Patty Ritchie and Assemblywoman Addie Russell’s bill to convey St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center properties in Ogdensburg to the City of Ogdensburg and strongly urged favorable consideration of the bill by the members of the Senate and Assembly.

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 2013 and 2012, in addition to its Strategic Plan being named a “Best Plan Awardee” in December 2011. There are 222 projects across the region that have been awarded a total of $274.7 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.

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