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North Country Regional Economic Development Council Announces Funding for Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority Road Improvement Project

(April 20, 2012)

North Country Regional Economic Development Council Announces Funding for Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority Road Improvement Project

The North Country Regional Economic Development Council today announced that the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority (OBPA) has received approval for $450,000 in much-needed funding for the Port Access Road project as part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Council initiative. The funds will enable the Port of Ogdensburg to move forward with construction of a port access road that will handle a subsequent cargo project slated for May 2012. The cargo project is anticipated to create 70 high-paying longshoremen jobs and generate significant economic benefits for the region. The funds were originally allocated for a port rail project that had a longer term construction schedule. The Port requested reallocation of funds to advance this essential road project.

“Ogdensburg is a critical strategic gateway for the North Country,” said Garry Douglas, Co-Chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council and President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. “The regional system which Governor Cuomo has created allowed us to identify the need for enhanced access to the Ogdensburg port as a priority in the first place, and also gave us the flexibility to be responsive to changing circumstances, helping to fund this timely road access in order to secure business for the port while simultaneously supporting a major construction and clean energy project in the region. This is an excellent example of the regional economic development approach at work and delivering for the North Country.”

“The funding of the Ogdensburg Port Authority is clear evidence of the value of regional input to regional economic development process. The North Country’s Regional Economic Development Council support to realigned funding so that the project could move forward is an excellent example of the region successfully working with state,” said Anthony Collins, Co-Chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council and president of Clarkson University.

The cargo project is in direct support of the Churubusco Wind Power Project and the access road is necessary for the transport of windmills from the port to eastern New York State and Vermont. The North Country Regional Council Co-Chairs believe the port access road project will sustain the Port of Ogdensburg, an important regional asset, and is critical to the port’s transportation and distribution network. In addition to creating much-needed jobs, the resulting cargo project is expected to generate 10 ships at the Port of Ogdensburg, in excess of 200 inbound railcars, and over 1,000 outbound trucks, providing a much needed economic boost to the area. Groundwork for the project begins next week.

“Funding for the port access road immediately creates jobs and economic opportunities for Northern New York which would not exist otherwise,” said Wade A. Davis, Executive Director Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority. “The Authority would like to thank Governor Cuomo, Empire State Development, the Regional Council, and all parties who have assisted in the effort to fund this project which is critical to generating economic opportunities for the North Country.”

The Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority applied for and was originally awarded $450,000 from Empire State Development for a $5.9 million rail improvement project. Since that time, the OBPA was not successful in securing federal funding for the balance of the project, and has requested that the funds be reallocated to the $1.94 million access road improvement project that is adjacent to the rail line and is critical to unloading cargo from both rail and port. Empire State Development approved the reallocation on the basis that the Port Access Road project is more immediate and will have a greater impact on the local economy.

Last year, a total of $785 million was awarded through the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) for job creation and community development projects consistent with each region’s strategic plans. The North Country was awarded $103.2 million in state support through the Regional Economic Development Council initiative and CFA process for some 70 projects across the region. As part of that process, $450,000 in funding was awarded to the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority from Empire State Development for this project.

“ESD is pleased to support this critical project in the North Country,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams. “By reallocating these CFA funds to the access road, we are responding to the needs of the community. The road project will maintain the quality of the Port Authority’s full-range of services, as well as provide an immediate economic boost to the area and highlight the port’s importance as a major transportation hub.”

The St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency (RVRDA), a local development corporation funded by NYPA to further economic development activities, has provided $182,000, the remaining balance of the project.

“This project once again demonstrates the value the River Valley Redevelopment Agency brings to the region through our investment in local development projects and infrastructure,” said Robert McNeil, Chair of the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency. “Working together with our development partners in the State and locally leads to positive economic benefits for all of us.”

“The St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency is pleased to participate in this project, which not only assists in bringing jobs to the region, but also improves our infrastructure for future opportunities,” said Brian W. Staples, Chairman of the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency. “Diversifying the Port’s cargo handling capabilities is a priority within the County’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, and this project moves us toward that goal.”

“Building the new access road to the Port of Ogdensburg is critical to bringing new jobs and growth to the North Country," said Senator Patty Ritchie. “I would like to thank Governor Cuomo and ESD for their quick response in funding this project. I am also pleased to have the opportunity to work with local economic development officials towards funding the remainder of this gap. This project will help create more jobs and provide a much needed boost to the region’s economy.”

“The responsiveness to the request that Senator Ritchie and I put to the agency is noteworthy here,” said Senator Joseph Griffo. “Our concerns were echoed and the adjustments made to the funding allocation were done to everyone's satisfaction. It is exceptional work that Kenneth Adams, Garry Douglas, Robert O'Neil and Roseanne Murphy were able to coordinate all the agency staff to get this accomplished. It's the focus of the Governor and Legislative leaders to make achievements like this more commonplace, because taxpayers expect it.”

“Improving our infrastructure is key to improving the North Country economy,” said Assemblywoman Addie Russell. “The project at the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority provides immediate construction jobs and enables the port to expand its operations. Increasing activity at the port will protect those jobs and provide valuable transportation options for countless other businesses in the region. The access road improvement is a pivotal project for the port. Ensuring the project moves forward in a timely manner is a top priority and reallocating funds to keep the project moving is essential. I am pleased that Empire State Development has responded so quickly and recognized the value of the Access Road project. Their quick response will ensure port jobs in the future and provide immediate work for our community.”

Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency. The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State.

To learn more about each regional council and their economic development plans, visit www.nyworks.ny.gov.

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