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Sun., Aug. 2
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Regional council seeking long-term economic development projects


LOWVILLE — The North Country Regional Economic Development Council is looking for priority projects, including ones that may be funded over several years.

“The process of economic development now has memory,” council Co-Chairman Anthony G. Collins, president of Clarkson University, Potsdam, said at a public forum last week at Lowville Academy and Central School.

Partially completed projects that may have, in the past, gotten lost in Albany bureaucracy are more likely to stay in the forefront with the regional economic development approach, launched last year by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, he said.

Mr. Collins specifically mentioned redevelopment of the old Lyons Falls Pulp & Paper mill, allotted $330,000 in last year’s initial round of region-based awards, as a phased endeavor that may receive continuing funding as a regional priority. “We expect to keep pushing that project,” he said.

Lawrence L. Dolhof, president of the Lewis County Development Corp., which owns the old mill property, said the initial funding is being used to bring in the Development Authority of the North Country as project manager, do some environmental work and study demolition priorities. Continued support will be needed to advance the project, he said.

“That Lyons Falls project is a transformative project for the county and the area,” said fellow development corporation member Glen A. Gagnier. “It’s vital that we get funding for that.”

Mr. Gagnier, a former Croghan mayor, also touted the need for future funding to advance LCDC’s efforts to redevelop the old Croghan dam. An ongoing design study of the dam will not be completed before the July 16 deadline for the next round of state funding, but the project will need money in upcoming years, he said.

Council Co-Chairman Garry F. Douglas, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce, Plattsburgh, said regional councils are to identify a “pipeline of projects” likely to get under way within the next two to four years, so the dam project could fit in that category.

Another advantage is that state funding for projects that don’t pan out may be reallocated to others within the region, rather than returned to Albany, Mr. Douglas said.

“We have the power to make sure we keep that funding in the region,” he said.

Last year, the north country received $103 million of the $783 million awarded to the 10 state regional councils. It was one of four regions — with Central, Western and Long Island — to receive additional funds for developing the top strategic economic development plans.

A total of $750 million will be available this year.

Along with regular project funding, the top four regions from last year will compete for two extra $25 million awards, while the six others will compete for two other $25 million bonus pots, Mr. Collins said. Determining factors for the regional awards will be extent of public input in the process and how well previously awarded money has been used, he said.

Tuesday’s meeting was the second of seven planned in each of the region’s counties. One was held in Watertown last week, and the St. Lawrence County session is scheduled for June 28 at the Frank S. McCullough Jr. Hawkins Point Visitors Center, 21 Hawkins Point Road, Massena.

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