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'College towns' in the works

By: DENISE A. RAYMO

MALONE — If North Country Community College’s five-year plan continues to bear fruit, the next three years could see as many as 100 new jobs — with economic impact to the region of at least $11 million.

Components of the strategy are already in progress, partnering the NCCC with private investors and state agencies to create new jobs in Saranac Lake, Malone and Ticonderoga.

POTENTIAL INVESTORS

The idea is to create a college-town atmosphere in each community to integrate NCCC and its students.

Student housing, incubator businesses and more faculty to train workers for the new jobs are part of the plan college President Dr. Steve Tyrell outlined for Franklin County legislators this week.

He said potential investors have been “knocking on our doors,” including, for example, a foreign businessperson who learned about Saranac Lake’s existing bio-tech businesses and has one that could easily dovetail with them.

Tourism-related careers would also be explored in Saranac Lake, while agriculture, hydro-dam development and green technology would be highlighted and developed in Malone.

If funded, the projects would create six new curricula at NCCC to train generations of workers for the new jobs developed through the investment strategy.

TICONDEROGA

Private investment and a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture totaling $1.3 million is already working as a three-pronged student-housing project in Ticonderoga that created student housing over Libby's Bakery and Cafe downtown.

There is also a plan to seek $7.1 million funding through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council and the SUNY 2020 program to purchase the vacant Lowe’s building in Ti.

The School of Applied Technology, with spin-off incubator businesses and industry, would be created there, Tyrell said.

Both ventures are expected to generate $3.8 million in additional economic revenue in Essex County, he said.

SARANAC LAKE

Tyrell said NCCC was not successful last year when it applied for a $10 million grant through SUNY 2020 to launch biotech and tourism-related curriculum at its Saranac Lake campus.

But the college will resubmit a tweaked version of same application with different potential investors this year, and he is confident NCCC will be funded this time around.

Plans include an incubator concept for small-business development to produce as many as 40 jobs, housing for 200 students downtown and 12 additional faculty positions.

These projects could generate $5.7 million in related economic development, Tyrell said.

The investors would provide the latest laboratory equipment and other materials, he said, to aid the students in learning new skills to help them secure jobs in their field of study after college.

MALONE

Two unused buildings are targeted for as much as $7.5 million in investment to wed the Malone NCCC campus to downtown, where ag-related technologies that provide sustainable energy would be developed, including hydroponics, aeroponics and aquaponics, Tyrell said.

Hydroponics could involve growing certain fruits and plants and raising delicacy fish for high-end restaurants in New York City, providing fresh produce year-round, as well as income.

“Certain fish grow well with certain vegetables,” he said, adding that the plant waste feeds the fish and the fish waste feeds the plants, so the process is environmentally sound.

‘HUGE POTENTIAL’

Legislators were impressed with the concept.

“This vision is unbelievable,” said Marc “Tim” Lashomb (R-Malone). “The potential is huge, and the partnerships will drive economic growth in Franklin County.”

Tyrell said developing a long-term plan like this has “always been in my head.

“We’re looking at how to grow and be sustainable, and we have to develop public partnerships to make this work,” he said of the college. 

“We’re a leveraging opportunity. There’s no reason why we can’t more forward.”

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com

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