North Country Regional Economic Development Council Holds First Meeting of the New Year
The North Country Regional Economic Development Council (NCREDC) today held its first public meeting of the New Year at SUNY Potsdam, continuing its efforts to grow the regional economy. During the meeting, the Council discussed its next steps in 2013, including additional funding opportunities going forward. The North Country was named a “Top Performer” in December 2012 as a part of Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council and Consolidated Funding Application initiative, and was awarded $90.2 million for 82 projects across the seven-county region.
The NCREDC approved the process to be used by municipalities in the region in applying for funding through the $2.5 million Municipal Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Support Fund. The Support Fund received approval in Round Two of the Regional Economic Development Council Initiative, and will be used as partial support to implement critical infrastructure projects, including water and sewer in the North Country that align with the Regional Council Strategic Plan. The objective of the fund is to leverage additional funds, attract and retain businesses, and serve existing and new residents and visitors. Maximum funding would be limited to 20 percent of the project not to exceed $500,000.
The Council was also updated on the development of the North Country Regional Sustainability Plan. As part of Governor Cuomo’s Cleaner Greener Communities initiative, the Council and a consortium of local experts are developing a regional sustainability plan that will guide the implementation of projects that will significantly improve the economic development and environmental well-being of the region.
In explaining its impact on the region, NCREDC member and Executive Director of the Adirondack North Country Association Kate Fish said the draft plan identifies and sets clear goals and targets. Future project applicants will be able to use the sustainability plan in developing projects to meet the Council’s objectives in the coming year. Fish said public participation has been excellent, and comments and suggestions have been incorporated into the design of the plan.
The NCREDC also endorsed Franklin County’s efforts to consider implementation of a 5 percent room occupancy tax, commonly known as an "occupancy tax." It would affect hotels, motels, rentals, bed and breakfast inns, and vacation rentals. Revenue generated from the room occupancy tax would be dedicated to tourism marketing efforts. Franklin County legislators expect the tax would help increase its tourism budget to an estimated $350,000.
“The North Country is a great place to live, learn and visit,” said Anthony Collins, president of Clarkson University and Council co-chair. “The entrepreneurial and talented people from across the region are working together in unprecedented ways to take full advantage of this opportunity to leverage and continue to attract public and private investment that is diversifying the economy and spurring family-sustaining job creation. The region is doing its part to re-establish the Empire State’s role as a global economic leader while maintaining our distinct commitments to the natural assets and quality of life we cherish.”
"The council has a lot of work to do, given our second year of success, with more than 80 new projects to get implemented," said Garry Douglas, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce and Council co-chair. "But we are off to another strong start, not only on the implementation front but preparing to compete effectively for some of the additional funding opportunities expected this spring, from tourism to technology. We're fully ready for another year of real progress for the North Country, and we continue to thank Governor Cuomo for this challenging but remarkable new process."
The session was open to public comment and questions.
Following the meeting, The North Country “Path Through History Work Group” held a public meeting to gain input for the development of its $100,000 marketing plan to encourage tourism, local economic development and serve as an educational tool as part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Path Through History initiative.
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 2012 in addition to their Strategic Plan being named a “Best Plan Awardee” in December 2011. One hundred fifty-two projects across the region have been awarded a total of $193.4 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.
The Regional Economic Development Council initiative (REDC) is a key component of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s transformative approach to State investment and economic development. In 2011, Governor Cuomo established 10 Regional Councils to develop long-term strategic plans for economic growth for their regions. The Councils are public-private partnerships made up of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, local government, and non-governmental organizations. The Regional Councils have redefined the way New York invests in jobs and economic growth by putting in place a community-based, bottom up approach and establishing a competitive process for State resources. After two rounds of competitive awards, nearly 1,500 projects are receiving support to put people back to work, get the economy back on track, and restore New York State as the Empire State. For more information on the Regional Councils, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov.