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Clarkson, Plattsburgh chamber collaborate on federal loan application

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POTSDAM — The work of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council already has won a large funding award, and now it is creating partnerships that stretch across the region.

Clarkson University, CITEC and Plattsburgh’s North Country Chamber of Commerce are applying jointly for federal grants to create an advanced manufacturing hub in the north country.

Clarkson President Anthony G. Collins, also the council’s chairman, said an application for the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge would be sent to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, the Small Business Administration and the National Science Foundation.

“This would be for existing manufacturers to help them add value to their research and work-force development,” said Mr. Collins. “We’re trying to help improve their processes and help develop work force, a very coordinated and connected opportunity.”

Mr. Collins said the partners are in the early stages of developing their proposal.

U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand, both Democrats of New York, and Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, have lent their support to the project.

“This program will help us to attract new industries to the area as we continue to work with our friends and neighbors to boost economic growth in the community,” Mr. Owens said in a Monday press release.

Mr. Collins said the application would not have occurred if it weren’t for the Regional Economic Development Council and the Consolidated Funding Application process, which brought together regional and local interests. He noted that the proposal, if successful, would have impacts from Lake Ontario to Lake Champlain.

“Interestingly enough, we watched the other economic development regions, and I don’t think anyone has the kind of team approach that we have up here,” he said. “If we’re not in the competition, we can’t win it, and our objective is to get as many resources to the north country as possible.”

Mr. Collins said the funding would build on the Council’s Regional Economic Development Plan. If successful, Clarkson would engage in work-force education and materials research while the Chamber of Commerce would provide on-the-job training for north country workers. CITEC, a nonprofit economic development engine, would use its expertise in “lean” business practices, sustainability and market intelligence to support manufacturers in the area.

The partners would focus on developing transportation equipment and advance materials manufacturing, building on the operations of Bombardier Inc.’s Plattsburgh plant, Alcoa’s facilities in Massena and Clarkson’s stable of researchers.

President Barack Obama announced $26 million for the challenge program in May to invest in manufacturing and create jobs.

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