Regional Development

State awards $2.4 million for North Country projects

By: DAN HEATH

PLATTSBURGH — Empire State Development approved $2.4 million in funding for two projects that cover the seven-county North Country Regional Economic Development Council territory.

North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas said these are two more examples of how the North Country is being empowered to address its economic needs in ways and on a scale appropriate to the region.

The Development Authority of the North Country is to receive a grant of up to $2 million to establish the Community Tourism Transformation Fund, a revolving-loan fund to develop tourism facilities in the region. 

Funds are available for new and existing businesses to develop tourism infrastructure, among them lodging, restaurants, retail, recreation, arts and cultural venues.

It is intended to advance projects that increase the quantity and quality of lodging, hospitality and tourism facilities. 

In turn, according to a news release from Empire State Development, those projects will serve to enhance the quality of life, provide affordable recreation and attract visitors and additional private investment.

“The Tourism Transformation Fund was one of our priorities last year, creating a loan fund specifically in support of ventures and projects that enhance our region’s attractiveness to tourists,” Douglas said by email.

“It will really allow us to target development opportunities, especially in the Adirondacks.

DIGITAL FILM CONVERSION

The Development Authority will also get a grant of up to $400,000 to establish the Digital Film Conversion Fund, a revolving-loan fund to purchase digital film projection equipment. 

That money comes in support of movie theaters as they look to convert projection equipment from film to digital formats. 

“The Digital Conversion loan fund will also allow us to target some needed assistance to a number of independent cinemas, which are a special part of their downtowns and their quality of life,” Douglas said. 

“Many of these are operated by dedicated owners, committed to their communities, but without some help for these owners in making this very costly conversion, we will lose these community assets forever.

“This special loan fund is part of the solution, along with the fundraising efforts being led by the Adirondack North Country Association.”

The funds, part of $40 million approved earlier this week, are expected to create more than 1,450 new jobs, retain more than 2,350 jobs and leverage more than $674 million in additional investments, the release said.

Empire State Development President and CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams said that under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s leadership, Empire State Development continues to be busier than ever helping existing companies expand and attracting new businesses to the state

“The funds approved by the board ... are supporting key industries like the rapidly growing film and post-production industries, advanced manufacturing and nanotechnology, as well as helping to implement regional strategies for economic growth, including boosting tourism and supporting our small business assistance centers,” he said in the release. 

Email Dan Heath:dheath@pressrepublican

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