ALBANY - The co-chairs of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council were in Albany last week to provide a progress update to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas and Clarkson University President Tony Collins told Cuomo that the North Country council is "punching above (its) weight," according to a press release. They appeared before Cuomo on May 15 for the launch of the third round of the governor's Regional Economic Development Council initiative, a competitive system of awarding state grants that replaces leaving the decisions up to lawmakers and agencies.
The North Country council was recognized as a "top performer" for its strategic plan last fall.
"The Governor's region by region approach to economic development is really working for the North Country," Douglas said in the release. "We have developed a sound plan that is being steadily implemented and we have come together as a seven county region for the first time, punching above our past weight and supporting one another on almost a daily basis.
"The launch of round three brings fresh opportunities to turn our plans and strategies into reality, and we're ready and anxious thanks to the continuing volunteer efforts of all of our council members and dozens of others who are involved in our work groups and committees."
During the presentation, the co-chairs highlighted the region's continued collaboration across multiple industries, and provided a brief overview on the status of its priority projects, including the launch of its Infrastructure Fund, actions on the Path Through History initiative, and the Cleaner, Greener Sustainability Plan.
"The North Country is already attracting and nurturing entrepreneurial pioneers to innovative clusters as supported in our regional plan," Collins said in the release. "Through broad public participation and the networks we have developed across the region through this process, we are well-positioned for a proposal to further leverage our assets through the Governor's Innovation Hot Spots initiative being launched in round three.
"By bringing our region's higher education and manufacturing sectors together to incubate high-tech innovation, coupled with unparalleled access to world-class recreation, we can further attract private investment, new business and jobs to the region."
In round three of the REDC competition, $760 million in state funding and tax incentives will be awarded: $220 million ($150 million in capital and $70 million in tax credits) for the council competition and $540 million for state-supported programs through the Consolidated Funding Application process. Five regions identified as "top performers" will receive $25 million each, and the remaining will compete for the balance of $25 million. Each region is also eligible for up to $10 million in tax credits.
Details for the CFA were also announced last week. Application materials will be available June 3, and the process will open to applicants on June 17. Details on upcoming training sessions and workshops will be announced soon, the release said.
The North Country council is composed of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. It was named a "Top Performer" in 2012 on the heels of its Strategic Plan being named a "Best Plan Awardee" in 2011. The North Country plan and priority projects can be found at www.northcountryopenforbusiness.com.
More than 150 projects across the region have been awarded a total of $193.4 million in state support through the REDC initiative and CFA process in the statewide competition, according to the release.