POTSDAM - The North Country Regional Economic Development Council (NCREDC) today submitted its progress report to the state to meet the Sept. 24 deadline.
The progress report, entitled Velocity, which refers to the level of unstoppable forward progress and momentum, provides detail on the councils achievements in implementing its five year strategic plan. The report includes a description of how the council advanced its plan, revisions to some of its strategies and additions to its workgroups, in addition to an implementation agenda and tracking of the advancement of priority job-creating projects awarded in 2011 and 2012. Additionally, the NCREDC provided the state with its list of the 21 priority projects the Council has endorsed for the third round of the Regional Council competition, as well as priorities supporting its Opportunity Agenda, Innovation Hot Spots and Cleaner Greener Communities initiatives.
The progress report can be found on the North Country Regional Councils website at www.northcountryopenforbusiness.com.
Through broad public participation and the inclusion of stakeholders across the seven-county region, the North Country has truly been delivering on its commitment to transform how we approach economic development and collaboration across the region, said Tony Collins, President of Clarkson University and North Country Regional Economic Development Council Co-chair. We have embraced the opportunity Governor Cuomo gave us in 2011 to build a strategic plan suited to our unique circumstances, characteristics and opportunities. Our commitment to keep the velocity of progress in high gear is buoyed by the quality of projects and innovative ideas coming from all sectors to make the North Country a great place to learn, live and work.
The degree of collaboration and teamwork which now exists across the region is remarkable and is positive for the North Country well beyond the bounds 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. It has allowed us to report extraordinary progress over the first two years, and has brought forward a diverse and impactful set of new projects that should prove very competitive. Thanks is owed to dozens of volunteers who have again contributed an extraordinary amount of time and talent to this process, both Council and committee members. Onward to the next competition!
In this years progress report, the North Country Regional Council points to the momentum gained in the last two years, and the unprecedented collaboration which this process has resulted across the seven-county region and industry sectors. In 2013, the NCREDC continued to revise its strategies and added three new working groups in response to the Governors charge:
■ An Opportunity Agenda work group to develop a plan, strategies and actions to overcome challenges that prevent under privileged families and individuals from participating in New Yorks economic revitalization.
■ An Innovation Hot Spots work group led by Clarkson University to compete for one of five Hot Spots across the State to advance transfer of technology from the Regions academic community to commercialization.
■ An Infrastructure work group to advance the development of infrastructure that is so critical to the Regions economic success and to work with the Governors New York Works task force.
Notably, several of the councils existing work groups have made significant progress over the last year. For example, the Tourism Committee finalized the deployment of the Tourism Transformation Fund and launched a process for identifying and designating Tourism Destination Areas (TDA), a process that has potential for statewide replication. In addition, the Higher Education and Research Development (HEARD) consortium, a collection of eleven colleges, universities and research institutions across the seven counties, has spent much of the year advancing their work on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) practices in the region and will focus efforts in 2014 on developing a region specific strategy for the Governors Next Generation Job Linkage Program.
Other areas of progress include the Defense - Fort Drum working group, which has advanced significantly on the Fort Drum housing strategies and assessed ways to ensure that encroachment of developed lands does not interfere with the Forts mission. The Agriculture work group has focused on the opening of several new USDA certified meat processing facilities in the region and new investments in the regions local foods economy.
As it looked to the next phase of its work, the North Country Regional Council undertook a thorough review of the strategies adopted in 2011 and 2012 and considered adjustments, refinements and additions which would reflect new information, changes in circumstances, and progress already achieved. Significant focus was on the development of collaborations both in and out of the region, successful implementation of programs awarded under Round 2 and the integration of the new initiatives under the Opportunity Agenda and Innovation Hot Spots into its overall efforts. Each of the key strategies continues to have strong linkage with elements of the plans vision, and will continue to be the top focus of the councils work with its partners in the region and with local and State government in advancing its 2013 Regional Plan.
The following 16 projects, located across the seven-county region and supporting the North Countrys diversity of economic sectors, were endorsed by the Council as regional priorities for the third round of the Regional Council competition and submitted to the State:
■ Bombardier Training Program
■ DANC Value Added Agriculture Program
■ Bionique Building Expansion
■ Inn at Schroon Lake
■ Mercy Health Center Redevelopment
■ Wild Walk Phase 2
■ Plattsburgh International Airport Terminal Expansion and FIS Facility
■ Lake Flower Lodging
■ EMP Implementation (Adirondack Museum)
■ Seagle Music Colony Centennial and Campus Improvement
■ Hotel Saranac, Saranac Lake
■ Port of Ogdensburg Agribusiness Capacity Building
■ North Country Regional Tourism CFA
■ Adirondack North Country Product Branding
■ Cycle Adirondacks
The NCREDC endorsed two priority projects in support of its Opportunity Agenda:
■ Jefferson- Lewis Machinist Training Program
In addition, the Council chose the following project to compete for the Innovation Hot Spots program:
■ North Country Innovation Hot Spot at Clarkson University
Finally, the Council endorsed two priority projects in alignment with its Cleaner Greener Communities plan:
■ Removing Barriers to Institutional Wood Pellet Heating
■ North Country Multi-County Implementation Plan
The following list of Other Regionally Significant Priorities and Initiatives are also included in the progress report, calling for focused attention to move these projects forward or address these needs in various ways, in addition to the Priority Project list put forward for direct funding:
■ Croghan Dam
■ Whiteface Highway
■ Higher Ed
■ Regional Micro-Enterprise Incentive Program
■ Regional Arts and Interactive Learning
■ St Lawrence Psychiatric Center – Center of Excellence
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 10 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:
■ Implementation of the Strategic Plans
■ Performance in encouraging economic group through job creation and investment
■ Identification of transformative projects that support 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)
Following the submission of each regions two-year progress reports, beginning in October, the Strategic Implementation Assessment Team (SIAT) will visit each of the 10 regions, to hear oral presentations and participate in a tour of the Councils implementation activity and priority projects. These tours will make New Yorks economic development process more transparent, open and publicly-accessible. Funding awards for the third round of the CFA process are expected to be announced this fall.