Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo
The North Country Economic Development Council was named a Top Performer by New York State, receiving $81.3 million in funding.
For the second straight year the North Country Regional Economic Development Council got the region some big bucks.
The North Country REDC was named as a Top Performer awardee Dec. 11 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, receiving $81.3 million as part of round three of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative.
“In the last three years, we have put New York’s fiscal house in order by controlling spending and cutting taxes and the global business community has taken notice,” Cuomo said. “We are transforming New York State into a top destination for companies from around the world to locate, invest and grow with initiatives like START-UP NY to provide tax-free areas and support to businesses. The Regional Councils were empowered to change the face of economic development in their communities and they have accomplished just that.”
One of the big winners on the day was the community of Saranac Lake, which saw awards given of $5 million for the renovation of the Hotel Saranac and $2 million for the construction of a new resort and waterfront restaurant at the former Lake Flower Hotel.
“It was real big,” Mayor Clyde Rabideau said. “We have really needed the critical mass of quality lodging in Saranac Lake and when you add these 180 rooms that keeps us in the top tier of tourism destinations in the Adirondacks.”
“This is a great opprtunity for the village to really catch up on some of its tourism infrastructure,” Community Development Director Jeremy Evans said. “This funding hits on a lot of the goals that the village has and to see the state buy in on that as well is pretty exciting. From top to bottom it was a great day not only for us but for the North Country.”
Rabideau said the increase in rooms will mean an increase in business throughout the community.
“With these rooms, we are going to have about 200 people daily who will be walking the streets and looking for things to buy and places to eat,” Rabideau said.
The mayor also had the chance to speak with Cuomo at the awards presentation.
“He spoke with me at length recalling his stays in Saranac Lake,” Rabideau said. “He really grew to love the area, knows what we are about and knows what we need.”
In addition, Bionique Testing Laboratories received $650,000 for expansion at its Lake Clear facility, adding 10,000 square feet for laboratories, storage and conference rooms; and the Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake received $3,360 for the hiring of a seasonal intern.
The region also received $6 million for infrastructure improvements to components of broadband to expand high speed, affordable service across the North Country region. Other general awards included $700,000 in community reneal funding, $9,794,580 in Excelsior Job Credits and $35 million in low cost economic development financing for state and local governments to sell tax-exempt bonds for eligible economic, infrastructure and community revitilization projects.
In Tupper Lake, the Wild Center received $250,000 to support Phase 2 of its Wild Walk.
“It is an amazing achievement and incredible testament to the community leaders on the North Country Regional Economic Development Council that the region’s plan was chosen for a third year as a Top Performer,” Wild Center Executive Director Stephanie Ratcliffe said. “Last year, Wild Walk received $1 million from this process towards its construction.”
Ratcliffe said the funding would be used for the exhibits and interpretation on the Wild Walk, which will open in July of 2015. It will include a network of bridges, raised platforms, tree houses, and other elements that are designed to deliver a fun and adventurous learning experience in the woods.
“To continue to be recognized and supported as a Priority Project by our peers underscores the economic and social impact of The Wild Center,” Ratcliffe said. “The Wild Center is proud to be seen as a part of the plan and congratulates all of the other winners.”
The Adirondack North Country Association received $100,000 for Adirondack North Country product branding, seeking to create a more certification-based North Country product brand. They also received $59,200 for the Adirondack Regional Arts Trail, which will aim to connect arts organizations, galleries, theaters, artists and craftspeople for an economic boost for rural communities.
“ANCA is pleased to have played a role in bringing more than $2.3 million in projects to our North Country communities,” ANCA Executive Director Kate Fish said. “ANCA was named the lead in a project of partners to create an art trail that will benefit the region’s artists and artisans and cultural centers, and another project to launch a long-needed Adirondack North Country product brand that will allow our regional producers to better differentiate themselves in the marketplace.”
The Appleby Foundation received $70,000 to use for the digital changeover for the Hollywood Theater in Au Sable Forks to, “ensure the future viability of the Hollywood as a viable business through purchase of a digital equipment package for one of its two theaters, and simultaneously expanding cultural programming to preserve the economic vitality of Main Street.”
“We are particularly excited about seeing three grant awards that will upgrade three movie theaters in Plattsburgh, Schroon Lake and Au Sable Forks to digital equipment,” Fish said.
The town of Jay also received $54,460 for the Grove Road Park improvement project. The money will be used to rebuild the softball, baseball and soccer fields destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene in order to resume recreational use of the facility.
“$7 million for Essex County is a huge shot in the arm,” Jay Supervisor and Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas said. “The governor has kept his word about supporting economic growth opportunities for Essex County and we cannot thank him enough.”
Douglas said he was very excited to learn the town received funding for the park.
“Over the years we had put so much effort into improving those facilities and Irene was devastating for all of us,” Douglas said. “This gives us the opportunity to improve the fields and grow the capacity of the site which is used by the youth commissions of Jay, Black Brook and Wilmington.”
Douglas added his, “personal favorite,” award went to the Hollywood.
“That theater is a staple in our community,” Douglas said. “We really had the threat of it closing this winter because it would not be able to make the conversion to digital. The $70,000 gives them the one screen and we as a community will keep fundraising for the second.”
The town of Willsboro received $18,750 to help complete the engineering report for needed upgrades and repairs to the wastewater treatment system. The Village of Lake Placid received $30,000 to complete an engineering report of the Main Street Sanitary Sewer project. The Village of Keeseville received $30,000 to complete an engineering report on its wastewater treatment system.
Bioenergy Project Parnters received $1,394,173 to install five high-efficiency wood pellet boilers at facilities located in Essex, Franklin and Hamilton counties. Essex County Community Resources received $1,939,668 to look at renewable energy projects in Essex, Franklin, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.
“For the Cleaner, Greener Communities grant, ANCA will work with Essex County to manage nine projects across five counties, ranging from upgrading small hydro, building a biodigester that will generate electricity and keep organic materials out of the landfill, a solar greenhouse installation and a pilot neighborhood project for wood pellet stoves,” Fish said.
The Development Authority of the North Country received $1 million to support agribusinesses throughout the region. Clinton County received $625,000 to further waterfront revitilization projects along Lake Champlain and in Franklin County.