North Country Regional Economic Development Council Holds Public Meeting
The North Country Regional Economic Development Council (NCREDC) today held a public meeting at Fort Drum, continuing its efforts to grow the regional economy. The Council discussed opportunities and initiatives to support the Fort Drum community, including public-private partnerships, housing and healthcare resources. Fort Drum is critical to the North Country economy, with 33,000 military and civilian staff and an estimated $1.44 billion annual economic impact. The growth stimulated by Fort Drum has led to unique requirements to support continued growth and expansion of this critical mission, including four housing projects funded through the CFA initiative.
“The name of the game at this point is implementation, and we are continuing to see very strong progress on both our projects and our strategies. Fort Drum has been a key target of our efforts, including the ReEnergy operation and the housing projects being developed to meet the needs of the military families and the community. It was valuable for the council to receive a thorough briefing on the base operations and needs, including tours. We can continue to feel very good about how we are doing overall, thanks to the continued commitment of all of the council members and dozens of other volunteers," said Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce and NCREDC Co-Chair.
“It is an honor and a privilege to support the military personnel who serve our nation. Through the NCREDC strategies and ongoing priorities, we are committed to Fort Drum and activities that provide the infrastructure and services for the military population that flows in and out of our region. We want to ensure that soldiers and their family members are fully welcomed and included into the many North Country communities that are convenient to them now and well into the future,” said Anthony Collins, President of Clarkson University and Council Co-Chair.
The Council endorsed a further round of projects being presented to Empire State Development to continue assistance to businesses recovering from damages resulting from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. The group also agreed to pass the request by the Empire State Forest Products Association to encourage the Adirondack Park Agency to move forward with a streamlined permit for sustainably managed forests.
In addition, the Council endorsed the North Country Infrastructure Fund, officially launching the nomination process. The Fund, approved in Round Two of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative, will provide resources necessary to implement critical water and sewer infrastructure projects in the North Country that align with the NCREDC’s Strategic Plan. The objective of the fund is to leverage projects that need gap financing, are ‘ready to go,’ and have a direct tie to the economy and implementation of the Council’s strategic plan. Maximum funding is limited to 20 percent of the project, not to exceed $500,000. Municipalities, town supervisors and public works offices should receive notice the week of April 22 that the NCREDC Infrastructure Fund is being launched. For more information, visit the NCREDC’s website at www.northcountryopenforbusiness.com.
The session was open to public comment and questions.
Following the meeting, the Council hosted a tour of ReEnergy Black River, a NCREDC Round One project. ReEnergy is converting the idled coal plant to utilize biomass material as its primary fuel. The new 60-MW Black River-ReEnergy plant is a win for the entire region, as it would provide all of the energy needs at Fort Drum Army Base and environmental benefits, and is expected to create 178 direct jobs. The company’s $35 million investment was aided by NCREDC’s allocation of $30 million in Industrial Revenue Bonds. In addition, the company will also purchase $11 million in wood products annually from local producers. The biomass facility is scheduled to open at the end of May.
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.