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Regional development council readies for next funding round

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MALONE — A group of business owners, elected officials and others gathered at the Malone Golf Club Tuesday to hear presentations from members of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council on what it has been doing over the last year and what is coming up.

“I feel we’re in a good position to be very competitive and do well again this year,” said Garry Douglas, council co-chair and North Country Chamber of Commerce president.

Mr. Douglas said members are preparing for the upcoming consolidated funding application process, which are due Aug. 12.

Mr. Douglas reviewed some of the council’s performance, noting that it was named “top performer” in 2011 and received $90.2 million in state funding for 82 projects. Last year, the council was recognized for having the best strategic plan for the region, which came with $103.2 million in funding for 70 projects.

Mr. Douglas said past state economic development plans did not allow the North Country to focus on its top industries, but more on what metropolitan areas have.

“We needed something that allowed us to focus on our best opportunities,” he said. “We really came together and objectively created a plan that suits this region.”

For the third round of funding, Dthere’s a certain amount of money available for different aspects of economic development that each of the 10 regional councils will be vying for. This includes up to $235.25 million for aid to businesses or organizations, $52.7 million for community development, as much as $13 million for rehabilitating waterfronts, about $13.4 million for improvements to the environment, as much as $50 million for energy improvements, $10.45 million to fund education and workforce improvements and about $350 million in low-cost financing through Empire State Development, according to the council’s presentation.

Mr. Douglas added that five councils will be selected as winners based on performance and will receive a $25 million bonus; all others are set to get a $5 million bonus.

“Even if we don’t win, there will be $5 million available,” said Tony Collins, council co-chair and Clarkson University president.

Following the council’s presentation, the meeting was opened for public comments.

Steven Tyrell, president of North Country Community College, made a few comments about the grants the college has applied for through the CFA process and how he believes the college needs to have a stronger relationship with the the three communities it has campuses in — Malone, Ticonderoga, and Saranac Lake — to survive.

Mr. Tyrell noted that the college submitted two CFA applications for this round.

“We’re looking at (agriculture) technology in Malone,” he said. “We also need to support job creation ... through incubator programs.”

Asked for specific details following the meeting, Mr. Tyrell said he’s hoping to instill the entrepreneurial spirit at the college by having someone who is considering starting up a business work with students and collaborate.

NCCC is considering multiple projects at its three campuses.

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