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North Country Regional Economic Development Council Presents Progress Update to Strategic Implementation Assessment Team

Council Presents Progress, Achievements and Endorsed Priority Projects for the Third Round of the Regional Council Competition
(November 20, 2013)

North Country Regional Economic Development Council Presents Progress Update to Strategic Implementation Assessment Team

The Strategic Implementation Assessment Team (SIAT), including Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales; Department of Taxation and Finance Commissioner Thomas H. Mattox; Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito; President and CEO of the Environmental Facilities Corp. Matthew J. Driscoll; Commissioner and President of the Civil Service Commission Jerry Boone; Chair of the Tourism Advisory Council Cristyne Nicholas; and President and CEO of the New York Power Authority Gil Quinones today continued visits to see firsthand the progress of the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) in the North Country. This visit continues the SIAT team’s review of the all ten Councils’ strategic economic development plans, progress reports and job-creating projects.

The North Country Regional Economic Development Council (NCREDC) provided a formal presentation to the SIAT outlining its progress, achievements and endorsed priority projects for the third round of the Regional Council competition at the ORDA Lake Placid Convention Center in Lake Placid. The Council’s progress report and full list of endorsed priority projects can be found at

“By empowering local communities to chart their own economic destiny, the Regional Economic Development Council process has fundamentally changed the way New York State invests in job creation and development,” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said. “Across the North Country, new projects are creating new jobs for New Yorkers and today’s assessment tour will give state officials a firsthand view of the progress that has been made over the past two and a half years. I commend the North Country Regional Economic Development Council co-chairs and the entire council’s membership for their hard work and commitment to growing the region’s economy.”

“The North Country region came together in an unprecedented way two years ago to develop a vision to lead the economic renaissance of New York’s small cities and rural communities,” said Clarkson University President Anthony G. Collins, co-chair of the North County Regional Economic Development Council. “As we enter our third year, the priority projects on the tour reflect the momentum we have created through broad public participation and a shared commitment by all involved to make our vision a reality. The State’s partnership investment in our plan has added velocity to our progress to make the North Country one of the special places on the planet to visit, live, work and study.”

“The North Country certainly did well in the first two rounds of this process,” said Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce and Co-Chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. “However, the best is yet to come. Thanks to the remarkable degree of fresh collaboration across the region and the confidence that has developed in our plan and process, we are truly seeing opportunities for building our identified strategic clusters such as biotech and transportation equipment, facilitating an amazing new readiness to develop hotels and attractions in areas like the Adirondacks, securing the long term future of Fort Drum, creating global air connections and more. Plus, our proposal to build an Innovation Network based at Clarkson, which would not have really been feasible just a few years ago. The Governor has made all of this possible, and we were proud to show him our progress and highlight all that we can accomplish in 2014 with the state's continued partnership. Onward and upward!”

The team toured and heard presentations on the following NCREDC projects:

Hotel Saranac
The project will renovate the historic Hotel Saranac, updating 75 guest rooms, banquet and meeting facilities, and street level retail space. The project will also develop a 250 car parking structure to support the hotel and retail operations. The renovated Hotel Saranac will be an anchor institution in making Saranac Lake a year-round tourism destination. It will support significant job creation both during construction and on a long term basis, creating 65 construction jobs and 45 new full time jobs. The project supports the Councils’ key strategy for tourism as it relates to leveraging private investment to diversify the region’s tourism/recreation based communities and allows enterprises to flourish.

The Trudeau Institute
The Trudeau Institute received $1.2 million in Round 1 of the REDC process to maintain its mission of conducting medical research in pursuit of human disease prevention and enhance its research faculty which will attract competitive funding from the National Institutes of Health and related organizations. The project has been completed and implements the Council’s strategy of supporting the existing small but dynamic biotechnology cluster in the Saranac Lake/Lake Placid area and encouraging other biotech companies to locate in the region, including early-stage biomedical tool companies. Having a larger bio-cluster presence in the region will help large and small biotech facilities to stay, expand and thrive.

Lake Flower Lodging
The project involves construction of a hotel and waterfront restaurant, including 90 rooms, banquet facilities, and dockage, on Lake Flower Avenue in Saranac Lake. Three aging motels will be removed and site and infrastructure improvements will be completed to accommodate the new hotel. The project will create 71 new jobs, and supports the Councils’ key strategy for tourism as it relates to leveraging private investment to diversify the region’s tourism/recreation based communities and allows enterprises to flourish.

Plattsburgh International Airport
The project involves construction of an approximately 80,000 square foot expansion of the terminal, with additional boarding gates, ticket counters, passenger screening facilities, and other passenger and administration space, in particular space for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This strategic investment and enhancement will improve both economic activity and access for residents and tourists, opening the North Country to global travel and cargo.

Innovation Hot Spot (Clarkson University)
The project will extend the services and expertise of Clarkson University’s Shipley Center for Innovation and the Reh Center for Entrepreneurship to five locations in the region. Clarkson staff will work with developing entrepreneurs on all aspects of business start-up and expansion, including product testing, intellectual property protection, marketing and web presence, in order to help insure the success of new businesses in the region.

DANC Fort Drum Housing
To meet the housing needs of Fort Drum soldiers and families, housing projects have been awarded in Rounds 1 and 2, and applied for in Round 3. In Round 1, DANC and COR were awarded $4 million for Beaver Meadows and Preserve at Autumn Ridge apartments and townhouses; totaling 690 units. In Round 2, the NCREDC funded Norstar Development for its 96-unit Creekwood Phase II housing project. Also in Round 2, COR Route 26 Company was awarded $2 million in Round 2 to construct its 364-unit Carthage Apartments, and funds were later reallocated to COR’s Mercy Health Center Redevelopment project in Watertown, a Round 3 priority project. COR will demolish 377,000 square feet of former hospital/nursing home space in four abandoned buildings on nine acres in downtown Watertown. The project will then redevelop the site with four new mixed use buildings, including 168 units of housing and 42,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.

Wild Walk, Wild Center
Wild Walk will take visitors on an exciting and informative journey up an elevated boardwalk, through five timber towers of increasing heights with viewing platforms. In 2012, The Wild Center was awarded $1 million for Wild Walk (Phase I), which includes the construction of the base platform structure. Phase 2 includes the permanent exhibits that will be constructed on these raised platforms. The project is consistent with the Council’s strategic plan to put in place tools to attract private investment which will drive demand to revitalize and diversify communities.

In the first two rounds of the Regional Council initiative, the North Country Region was awarded $198 million in state support for 157 projects across the region. Of those projects, more than 92 percent are now underway as a result of funding they received.

“The success of some fourteen hundred projects across the State clearly demonstrates that the Governor’s Regional Council initiative is working and delivering on its intentions,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams. “The North Country Economic Development Council allows those who know their regions best, including its unique assets and challenges, to weigh in on what matters most locally and back projects that will have a real impact and best spur the regional economy.”

Based upon published guidelines (available in the 2013 Guidebook), SIAT will review and assess each region’s progress as it relates to their accomplishments in the following categories:

  • Keep the project pipeline flowing;
  • Select “Innovation Hot Spots” to facilitate tech transfer;
  • Develop an Opportunity Agenda to revitalize distressed communities and address barriers to entry into the workforce for people living in areas of concentrated poverty;
  • Assure the workforce is being trained for today and tomorrow;
  • Engage local government officials in reshaping the regional business climate;
  • Create interregional collaborations around shared resources and opportunities;
  • Advance regional Cleaner, Greener Communities sustainability plans; and
  • Measure performance.

The Regional Council competition awards will be made based on the progress the Councils have made in implementing their strategies and the evolution of their strategic plans.

On September 24, 2013, each Council submitted to the State its two-year progress report, which provides detail on the Council’s achievements in implementing its five year strategic plan. The NCREDC report includes a description of how the council advanced its plan, revisions to some of strategies and additions to its workgroups, in addition to an implementation agenda and tracking the advancement of priority job creating projects awarded in 2011 and 2012. It also included a list of its 32 priority projects.

Statewide, the first two rounds of the Regional Council initiative included $1.5 billion in investments to support more than 1,400 economic and community development projects consistent with each region’s strategic plans that are creating or helping retain an estimated 75,000 jobs. To continue building on the success of rounds one and two, up to $760 million in state resources are available in 2013. Funding for the third round includes $220 million ($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 $540 million from state agency programs through the CFA to support regionally-significant economic development projects.

This year, all ten regions will compete against each other. The competition places emphasis on Regional Council performance and action to implement strategies.

Five regions will be identified as the “Top Performer” and will receive up to $25 million each. The remaining regions will compete for the balance of $25 million. Each region will also be eligible for up to $10 million in Excelsior Tax Credits.

Regions designated as a “top performer” will be required to demonstrate the following:

  • Continued Implementation of their individual Strategic Plans;
  • Performance in encouraging economic growth through job creation and investment; and
  • Identification of transformative projects that encourage collaboration (e.g., leveraging computing assets to establish research partnerships, utilizing equipment and co-locations to assist manufacturers, and developing shared space for food processing).

Governor Cuomo established the Regional Councils and 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.

To learn more about each Regional Council and their economic development plans, visit