North Country Regional Economic Development Council Submits One-Year Progress Report
The North Country Regional Economic Development Council (NCREDC) submitted its one-year progress report to the State on September 14, 2012, which provides detail on the Council’s achievements in implementing its five year strategic plan. The report includes a description of how the Council established a framework to advance the plan, revisions to some of its strategies, an implementation agenda and a tracking of the advancement of priority job-creating projects awarded in 2011. Additionally, the NCREDC provided the State with its list of the 21 priority projects the Council has endorsed for the second round of the Regional Council competition.
The progress report can be found on the North Country Regional Council’s website at http://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/content/north-country.
“We chose to open the North Country REDC’s progress report with ‘Do what you can, with what you have, where you are,’ a quote from the late President Teddy Roosevelt who was an avid recreation and wildlife enthusiast in the Adirondacks,” said Tony Collins, President of Clarkson University and NCREDC Co-chair. “The quote captures the energy and collective focus of our region on its implementation of its 2011 Best Plan award-winning strategy. In addition to leveraging the obvious economic development opportunities from the $103.2 million award to the region, the real success of the North Country Strategic Plan emanates from the unprecedented momentum for our counties and communities to tell a regional story that is both unique and remarkable. Today, we share a deep sense of place, unity and optimism that we can shape the future for the North Country with the assets, challenges and opportunities that we have.”
"The completion of last year's plan for the North Country, which won Best Plan status and an unprecedented $103 million from the State, was certainly extremely satisfying," said Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce and NCREDC Co-chair. "However, even more satisfying has been the incredibly strong implementation work since then, with regard to both our specific projects and our ambitious strategies. The entire North Country can feel very good about the progress we have just reported across the board and, most of all, about the state of sharing and collaboration that has developed in such a short time across a vast region which had never worked together like this before. We have really grasped the opportunity given to us by Governor Cuomo to chart our own course. The results are becoming evident and the best is yet to come. Onward and upward!"
The North Country Regional Council points to the establishment of a powerful new platform for regional collaboration as its greatest success, and also stresses many examples of progress on its strategies that are unrelated to the identified projects. Examples include successful advocacy on the federal level for projects and policies enhancing border fluidity; the successful work of the Village of Saranac Lake to draw biotech companies to new downtown locations and thus advance the creation of a bio cluster there; and advancements in collaboration among education and workforce development leaders such as the creation of the new North Country Higher Education and Research and Development Consortium and the North Country STEM Hub at Clarkson.
As it looked to the next phase of its work, the North Country Regional Council undertook a thorough review of the strategies adopted in 2011 and considered adjustments, refinements and additions which would reflect new information, changes in circumstances, and progress already achieved. The most notable adjustment was the focus and refinement of its twelve Key Strategies to further the collective commitment behind those strategies with the broadest and most significant potential for both near term and long term impact on the region’s economy. Each of the Key Strategies have strong linkage with elements of the Vision, and will continue to be the top focus of the Council’s work with State partners and others in advancing its 2013 Regional Plan. The Council has also refined its other strategies, as well as a new sector strategy for Health Care developed and adopted this year. In carrying out this first year of implementation, the Council has reported substantial action and progress behind each of its strategies. All but two of its 60 projects that received competitive State grants last year are moving forward. Examples include:
- Bombardier Transportation has signed its contract to move forward with it’s nearly $25 million expansion project in Plattsburgh, which will create 100 new jobs and retain 288 existing jobs at its production facility. It has released its design renderings and plans to break ground this fall.
- ReEnergy Black River- This $35 million project supports the renovation of a former coal plant into a biomass energy facility that will create hundreds of jobs, provide a boost to local foresters and help to create green, renewable energy. ReEnergy is aiming to produce enough electricity to meet 100 percent of Fort Drum's demand.
- The Lewis County Development Corporation (LCDC) is in the initial phase of redevelopment for the Lyons Falls Mill Site project, which is aimed at transforming the long-time vacant, former paper mill site into a mixed use, shovel ready business park. This first phase includes conducting the environmental survey, engineering, permitting and redevelopment planning. Environmental and structural assessment is underway and demolition engineering has been initiated.
- As recommended by the Council, State funding awarded through the Regional Council initiative was reallocated for the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority (OBPA) and the construction of a Port Access Road, which will enable the Port of Ogdensburg to handle a cargo project that will generate significant economic benefits for the region. A temporary road has been put in place and is being used while the main road project is under construction. It is expected to be complete by October 2012. The following 21 projects were endorsed by the Council and submitted to the State as regional priorities for the second round of the Regional Council initiative’s competitive grant funding process:
- Adirondack Meat Company - Ticonderoga Construction of a 7,500 square foot meat processing plant and retail store, which supports the agricultural sector by providing access to a local processing facility for livestock.
- Community Transformation Tourism Fund - Region wide Creation of a specialized loan fund for tourism-related ventures, which supports the need to foster tourism development across the North Country.
- Hamilton County Broadband Phase II - Hamilton County Phase II support for the development of middle and last mile fiber in Hamilton County, which supports a key regional aim of bringing broadband access to all communities in the Adirondacks.
- Curran Renewable Resource - Massena Purchase of wood fired combustion chamber to burn green wood in drying process for production of wood pellets, which supports utilization of a regionally sourced renewable resource.
- DANC Value-Added Agriculture Program - Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties Makes capital available to farmers and related businesses for productivity and yield enhancement projects, which supports added value for the region's dairy, maple syrup and other food related industries.
- Creekwood Housing Phase II - Jefferson County 100 units of housing for families and military personnel, which supports the housing needs and future of Fort Drum.
- International Paper - Ticonderoga Assistance for conversion of processes from #6 fuel oil to natural gas, which supports the future of this major manufacturing operation.
- Adirondack Park Recreational Portal, Adirondacks Creation of a common web portal to inventory and link recreational assets and retail services in the Adirondacks, which supports tourism and the Adirondack Park economy. This involves all three regions which cover parts of the Adirondack Park and is therefore an example of a multi-regional project, including the North Country, Capital, and Mohawk Valley regions.
- North Country Regional Food Hub - Canton Establish a 9,000 square foot distribution facility for regionally grown and raised products. This project supports added value for the region's agricultural sector.
- Cape Vincent Green Energy Willow - Cape Vincent Assist in an operation to plant, grow and harvest short rotation willow for electricity production, which supports needed resources for the ReEnergy biomass plant at Fort Drum.
- Current Applications Expansion - Watertown Build a 10,200 square foot addition to Current Applications for expanded production and new product line. This project supports manufacturing growth in the region.
- Strand Theater Restoration Phase II - Plattsburgh Assist with final phase of restoration of the Strand Performing Arts Center, which supports downtown revitalization and expansion of the region's arts assets.
- Lyons Falls Mill Redevelopment Phase II - Lyons Falls Demolition work, development of road to hydroelectric plant, and structural integrity engineering. This project supports increase of locally generated sustainable energy, and carries out next phase of remediation of a brownfield development site.
- The Wild Center's Wild Walk - Tupper Lake Construction of an elevated walkway with interactive exhibits as a major added attraction at the Wild Center to support tourism development in the region.
- Recycled Landfill Recreation Project - Saranac Lake and North Elba Redevelopment of a closed landfill as multi-use recreational site for sports competitions and training, which will supports tourism development as well as the sports and recreation industry in the Lake Placid area.
- Adirondack Museum Optimized Wood Pellet Boiler - Blue Mountain Lake Installation of wood fueled boiler at the Adirondack Museum to support use of locally sourced renewable resources and reduce costs for major tourism asset.
- Raquette River Blueway Corridor - St. Lawrence, Franklin and Hamilton Counties A network of projects enhancing the Raquette River Blueway, which will support tourism development through three counties.
- Long Lake Broadband Phase II - Long Lake Extend fiber to further homes and wireless access points in the Long Lake area. This project supports aim of expanded broadband access in the Adirondacks.
- Adirondack Heart Lake Program Center - Lake Placid Expansion of visitor center and construction of camping facility to support tourism development in the Adirondacks.
- Carthage Apartments - West Carthage Build 364 apartments in the Fort Drum area to support the housing needs and future of Fort Drum.
- Municipal Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Support Fund - region wide A support fund for water and sewer projects in support of economic development. This project supports infrastructure and economic development in the region.
Projects not listed as a priority project in this competitive portion, but that submitted a CFA, will be eligible for additional funding available through various State agencies as a part of the CFA process.
In addition, the Regional Council identified a list of "Continuing Priorities", carrying forward several priorities from 2011 which will continue to receive key attention and coordinated state and regional support in the year ahead:
- Trudeau Institute
- Kraft Foods
- Nova Bus
- Newton Falls Rail
- Cleaner Greener Communities planning initiative
- North Country/Adirondack product branding
The following list of "Other Priorities" are also included in the progress report, calling for focused attention to move these projects forward or address these needs in various ways, in addition to the Priority Project list put forward for direct funding. In some cases, these will involve advocacy for federal or other resources or approvals:
- Adirondack Club and Resort
- Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway
- Alcoa Modernization Project
- Homeward Bound Adirondacks
- DANC Telecommunications Loan Fund
- Inn on Schroon Lake
- North Country Empire STEM Hub
- North Country Higher Education and Research and Development Consortium
- North Country Movie Theaters digital conversion
- Plattsburgh International Airport infrastructure and terminal expansion
- Rivermede Farm Solar Thermal Greenhouses
- Sweetsource Sugar Processing Facility
- Water and sewer infrastructure regionwide
Finally, the Regional Council also endorsed five broadband projects, including two as Priority Projects (Hamilton County Broadband Phase II and Long Lake Next Generation) and three addition projects which will compete for funding under Governor Cuomo's recently announced $25 million broadband program:
- Schroon Lake Broadband
- Belmont North Next Generation Broadband
- Belmont South Next Generation Broadband
Governor Cuomo created Regional Councils and the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) to fundamentally change New York’s operating model for economic development and job creation. The Regional Councils have transformed the way the State invests in economic development, shifting from a top-down approach to a community-based, performance-driven model which empowers individual regions to develop, invest in, and advance regional solutions and job-creating projects to spur economic growth.
Last year, $785 million was awarded for job-creating economic and community development projects consistent with each region’s strategic plans. To build on the success of the first round, a second round of up to $762 million in State resources was launched in 2012. Funding for the second round includes $220 million in competitive grant funding ($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 $542 million from State agency programs through the CFA to support regionally-significant economic development projects.
Five awards of $25 million will be made, and the competition will have two parts:
- First, the four regions with the 2011 Best Plans will compete for two awards of up to $25 million each in capital funds. Awards will be made based on the progress the Regional Councils have made implementing their strategies and evolution of their strategic plans
- Second, the remaining six regions will compete for three awards of up to $25 million each in capital funds. Awards will be made based on the regions’ revised and updated strategic plans and progress made implementing their strategies
The balance of the $25 million in capital will be available for priority projects in the remaining five regions. In addition, each region will also be eligible for up to $10 million in Excelsior Tax Credits to help attract and grow business in the region.
Following the submission of each region’s one-year progress reports, beginning in mid-September, the Strategic Implementation Assessment Team will visit each of the 10 regions, to hear oral presentations and participate in a tour of the Councils’ implementation activity and priority projects. These tours will make New York’s economic development process more transparent, open and publicly-accessible. Funding awards for the second round of the CFA process are expected to be announced this fall.
As part of "The New New York Works for Business" campaign, the State has launched a new website – www.thenewNY.com – which provides quick access to information for all areas of business assistance available from New York State. From starting a business, to accessing tax credits and funding incentives, to international trade, to regional assistance, this is a one-stop shop for all businesses to successfully thrive in New York.
To learn more about each Regional Council and their economic development plans, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov.