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North Country Regional Economic Development Council

Economic Development Council has new initiatives

By: DAN HEATH

PLATTSBURGH — A number of new initiatives are included in the third round of the Regional Economic Development Council program.

At stake is a share of $760 million in funding, tax credits and other incentives.


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North Country Regional Economic Development Council Co-chairs Anthony “Tony” Collins, president of Clarkson University, and Garry Douglas, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce, provided details Tuesday of some changes to the program in this third round of funding.

They spoke at Clinton Community College during the second of seven public meetings, one in each of the seven counties included in the North Country council’s region.

Douglas said public participation has been an important part of their success so far. The North Country Council was awarded $90.2 million for 82 projects in 2011 and $103.2 million for 70 projects in 2012.

“It’s something the region has a right to be proud of,” he said.

Collins said it’s important to note that, for projects that have moved forward, the state’s investment leveraged almost 10 times that amount in private investment.

HOT SPOTS

One of the new initiatives this year is the Innovation Hot Spots competition.

Collins said the goal is to foster the connection between businesses and colleges to create jobs. One key is to show the ability to transition innovative technology to the market.

A total of up to 10 Hot Spots will be chosen — five this year and five next year. 

Collins said applicants must have an incubator program in place, which Clarkson University has. It has vetted about 600 proposals in the last two years, of which 120 are incorporated in one form or another, at present. 

While Clarkson will serve as lead applicant, it will provide links to proposals from across the North Country region.

“We think we have an excellent opportunity,” he said.

OPPORTUNITY AGENDA

Another new initiative is the Opportunity Agenda program. It was established to allow the councils to identify ways to overcome issues that prevent poorer communities, families and individuals from full participation in economic revitalization.

The North Country Council is looking for projects to help economically distressed populations affected by issues such as significant job losses, market loss due to foreign competition, above-average unemployment, population loss and numerous other criteria, which can be found on the Regional Council’s website. 

“We are striving to reach communities that really need help,” Collins said.

IN THE PIPELINE

The North Country Council has established a pipeline process to seek information on existing projects in the region and identify new ones for potential development.

Douglas said those with projects that might not be ready to move forward should still provide information so the council has a better idea of proposals that could be viable in the future.

Submitting information to the project pipeline is not the same as seeking funding. Any project that wants to be considered for funding needs to complete a Consolidated Funding Application.

CONSOLIDATION

Leigh Mundy provided a presentation at the session on one of the projects that has received funding in the first two rounds. The Strand Theatre was awarded $397,000 in 2011 and $305,000 in 2012 and was required to spend $530,000 and $497,000, respectively, to receive those awards.

It also received $250,000 from Empire State Development, with a requirement to spend $1.1 million and create three jobs.

Mundy said the Consolidated Funding Application process has been a tremendous boost for the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts, as it cuts down on having to research and submit numerous applications.

“The Regional Economic Development Councils and what they’re doing for upstate are great,” she said. 

Email Dan Heath:dheath@pressrepublican.com

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FUNDING DEADLINE

The deadline for submission of a Consolidated Funding Application for this round is 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11.

The council needs to deliver its final recommendations to Empire State Development by Tuesday, Sept. 24.

For application materials and other information, visit http://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/content/north-country.

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