North Country Regional Economic Development Council Submits Progress Report
The North Country Regional Economic Development Council (NCREDC) today submitted its progress report to the State to meet the August 15 deadline. The progress report, which details the Council’s achievements in implementing its five year strategic plan, is entitled “Without Boundaries,” referring to the region overcoming various boundaries that formerly limited its economic opportunities, including past state approaches to economic development which did not align with North Country circumstances. It also refers to the region's strong success in building economic links across the border with Canada for the benefit of the entire State.
The report includes a description of how the Council advanced its plan, revisions to its vision statement and strategies, and adjustments to its committees to address 2014 priorities, in addition to an implementation agenda and tracking of the advancement of priority job-creating projects awarded in the previous three rounds of the Regional Council initiative. Additionally, the NCREDC provided the State with its list of the 25 priority projects the Council has endorsed for the fourth round of the Regional Council competition, as well as priorities supporting its Global NY, NY Rising, Workforce Development, Opportunity Agenda, Veterans and Innovation Hot Spot initiatives.
The progress report can be found on the North Country Regional Council’s website at www.northcountryopenforbusiness.com.
“This year’s Progress Report really confirms how strongly the North Country is performing under the new regional economic development process,” said Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce and Co-Chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. “Every one of the more than seventy priority projects funded in the last three rounds is completed or progressing. Every one of our strategies is advancing. And every one of our targeted sectors is seeing signs of positive transformation. Plus, we have embraced several new initiatives, including a comprehensive plan to take our region's already strong role in international business and foreign investment to a new level. All of this is possible thanks to the trust placed in our region by Governor Cuomo, empowering us to define our own economic development aims and priorities, while developing an unprecedented partnership across the seven counties which is making the whole far greater than the sum of the former parts.”
“The NCREDC vision to lead the economic renaissance of New York State’s small cities and rural communities is taking hold here and influencing new avenues for collaboration across sectors. From the residents in our communities providing input into this process to the volunteers on the Council working with our elected and public officials, the energy and commitment to elevate global recognition of the North Country as one of the special places on the planet to visit, live, work and study is unprecedented. The future is ours,” said Tony Collins, President of Clarkson University and North Country Regional Economic Development Council Co-chair.
In this year’s progress report, the NCREDC points to the momentum gained in the last three years, and the unprecedented collaboration that has since resulted across the seven-county region and industry sectors, as key factors to the Council’s success. The NCREDC gathered public input on its strategic plan and priority projects over the last several months through its numerous public forums and CFA training sessions held across the region. In 2014, the NCREDC continued to revise its strategies and adjusted its committees/work groups in response to the Governor’s charge of 2014 priorities:
Global Marketing, Export and Foreign Direct Investment Strategies - The Council’s newly formed Global North Country Alliance has developed strategies that will help companies introduce their products in foreign markets or increase sales overseas. Goals include the development of support services and increased utilization of existing assistance programs.
Regional Workforce Development - The Council charged its Workforce Development Group to create refined and new strategies, and focus on key sectors in the region that can create opportunities for employment and advancement of workers. The Council also directed the Opportunity Agenda Work Group to report to the Workforce Development Group on specific opportunities to meet the needs of the region’s unemployed and under-employed workers.
Veterans Participation in the Workforce - The Council formed a new work group composed of the region’s county-based veterans’ organizations, the Department of Labor Veterans representatives, and Homeward Bound based in Saranac Lake, to identify ways to better integrate veterans into the workforce and develop means by which to coordinate with the State on implementation of new veterans’ initiatives. In addition, the Council directed the Workforce Development Group to coordinate with the new Veterans Work Group.
SUNY 2020 - The Higher Education and Research Development (HEARD) work group is strengthening its coordination with the seven SUNY campuses in the region to spur local economic development through technology transfer, and help create a workforce to advance the North Country and New York State into the future.
NY Rising - Council member Randy Douglas, Supervisor of the Town of Jay and Chairman of the Essex County Board of Legislators, was selected to serve as NCREDC liaison to the region’s two NY Rising communities (Keene and Jay) and was tasked with coordinating NCREDC support for their efforts.
Notably, the Council has made significant progress over the last several years through the Regional Council process. For example, the Council reports that more than 70 priority projects are underway or completed, helping to transform the strategic sectors identified in the Plan, and every awarded project is on track for completion. Through its work, the Council has succeeded in substantially addressing the challenge of adequate housing for Fort Drum, and broadband access in the most rural and sparsely populated areas of the Adirondacks. Additionally, the Innovation Hot Spot at Clarkson University and the Trudeau-Clarkson partnership are helping to grow the emerging bio-tech cluster and other high-tech businesses in the North Country.
As it looked to the next phase of its work, the NCREDC placed significant focus was on the development of collaborations both in and out of the region, successful implementation of new strategies and projects awarded under Round 3, and the integration of the new initiatives, such as Global NY, into its overall efforts.
The NCREDC’s former Canadian Connection work group was revised, expanded and transformed into the Global North Country Work Group this year. The group, a collaboration among key organizations and interests across the region, developed the Council’s Global NY plan, “Global North Country: Without Boundaries… Sans Frontieres.” This comprehensive strategy for international business development within the region leverages the North Country’s unique and growing dynamics as an international region connecting the entire state to Canada and the world. The NCREDC has focused on cross- border alliances and bi-national partnerships, its strong track record in attracting foreign direct investment, export opportunities in manufacturing and aerospace sectors, and its strategic border location in developing a plan to accelerate the region and State’s success in growing exports and attracting foreign direct investment.
In addition, the following 25 projects, located across the seven-county region and supporting the North Country’s diversity of economic sectors, were endorsed by the Council as regional priorities for the fourth round of the Regional Council competition and submitted to the State for recommended direct funding:
- Carthage- West Carthage Joint Wastewater Treatment Facility Improvement Project
- Workforce Connections
- AgriMark Expansion
- Adirondack Teleworks Gateway
- Twinstate Technologies Expansion
- North American Tapes Production Expansion Project
- AIME High II Job Training program
- Regional Arts and Interactive Learning (RAIL) Revitalization Project
- TriTown Packing Slaughter Facility Upgrade and Expansion
- Empire State Winter Games Go Global
- Replacement Health Center for Champlain
- Robotic Farming for Local Food Production
- Closing the Skills Gap
- ACAP Workforce Development
- Grand Slam Safety Equipment Acquisition
- NCCC Flanagan Hotel Co-location Project
- Cleaner Greener Communities One Stop Shop
- TAP Industries’ Ag Plastic Project
- Hamilton County Tourism Infrastructure Assistance Program
- North Country Regional Revitalization Fund
- Planting Hope Project
- Adirondack Community-Based Trails and Lodging System (ActLs)
- Adirondack Product Branding Phase II
- NY Rising Initiative Ausable Forks Fire Department
The following list of Other Regionally Significant Priorities and Initiatives is also included in the progress report, calling for focused attention to move these projects forward or address these needs in various ways:
- Fort Drum Sustainability and Retention Activities
- Cleaner Greener Communities Sustainability Plan
- Agriculture Program Funding
- Adirondack Club and Resort
- Early learning and affordable day care across the region
- Medical Provider Recruitment
- Industrial Site Redevelopment
- Cell Service
- ORDA managed facilities improvements
- Housing and community infrastructure renewal
- Connectivity with Quebec and Ontario
To continue building on the success of the last three rounds, up to $750 million in State resources is available in 2014. Funding for the fourth round includes $220 million in competitive funds from Empire State Development ($150 million in capital and $70 million in tax credits) to implement regional strategic plans and continue to advance priority job-creating projects, and up to $530 million from State agency programs through the CFA to support regionally-significant economic development projects.
The competition will be split into two parts: the five regions identified as Top Performers in 2013 will compete for two awards of $25 million each; and the five regions not identified as Top Performers in 2013 will compete for three awards of $25 million each. The balance of the $25 million in capital funds will be divided among the remaining five regions. Each region will also be eligible for up to $10 million in Excelsior Tax Credits to help attract business and create jobs in the region.
The competition this year will focus on:
- Implementation of regional strategic economic development plans;
- Performance in encouraging economic growth through job creation and investment; and
- Identification of global marketing and export strategies.
Funding awards for the fourth round of the CFA process are expected to be announced by the end of the year.
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 2013 and 2012, in addition to its Strategic Plan being named a “Best Plan Awardee” in December 2011. There are 222 projects across the region that have been awarded a total of $274.7 million in state support through the Regional Economic Development Council initiative and Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process in the statewide competition.
About the Regional Economic Development Councils
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 three rounds of the REDC process, more than $2 billion has been awarded to job creation and community development projects consistent with each region's strategic plans, supporting the creation or retention of more than 100,000 jobs. For more information on the Regional Councils, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov.