North Country Community College’s proposal to create a applied technology center in the former Lowe’s building in Ticonderoga is drawing rave reviews — as it should.
At the direction of President Dr. Steve Tyrell, NCCC has submitted an application for a feasibility study that could lead to the vacant store becoming a vibrant center of education and commerce. It will be some time before we know if the project becomes reality, but just the proposal has people throughout the area excited.
If the project becomes reality, NCCC will expand its degree programs in Ticonderoga. Specific curriculum have not yet been identified, but Tyrell expects an emphasis on green technology and middle skills. Middle skills are those requiring more than a high school degree, but not a four-year degree.
The proposed applied technology center could serve up to 450 students and could open in the fall of 2016. It will have no impact on the existing Ticonderoga campus or its programs, Tyrell said.
The Ticonderoga program would be based on a similar program at SUNY-Alfred, where Tyrell worked before coming to NCCC. The Alfred program offers college-level carpentry, masonry, electrician and other construction trade training. It also integrates energy conservation, alternative energy use and sustainable building design education and training into its academic programs, focusing on green building technologies in New York State.
Jim Major, chairman of the Ticonderoga Revitalization Alliance, estimates the additional NCCC students in Ticonderoga would add $1.5 million to the local economy through retail and food purchases.
But there’s more. The project could mean jobs for area residents.
Tyrell said the START-UP NY program could lead to businesses locating in Ticonderoga. That state program gives tax breaks to businesses aligned with the academic mission of a college campus, college or university.
Participating companies in START-UP NY will not pay any taxes for 10 years. Employees in participating companies will pay no income taxes for the first five years.
Ticonderoga Supervisor Deb Malaney said there have been discussions about including biomass energy resources in the curriculum. Biomass energy is the use of organic materials as a source of fuel. Wood is the main source of biomass energy.
Malaney believes Ticonderoga would have the potential to attract biomass energy firms through the NCCC applied technology center and the START-UP NY program.
“With this, the potential for additional incubator businesses would be very promising,” Malaney said. “We hope this will allow us to attract additional businesses in the biomass energy industry. We believe those companies will locate near an applied technology center specializing in biomass energy.”
Malaney said there have already been preliminary discussions with such a company about locating in Ticonderoga. She declined to name the firm.
“For me, this is the most exciting potential project that TRA has been involved with,” Major said.
Malaney, Major and other Ticonderoga representatives toured the Alfred facility this spring.
“TRA visited Alfred to learn about their very successful trade school program,” Major said. “We learned that they have about 800 students being taught all of the trades from carpentry to electrical engineering. Their students mostly come from the western portion of New York leaving a void of services for the eastern half of New York and surrounding states and Canada.”
It’s hoped an applied technology center in Ticonderoga can fill that void.
Tyrell believes the proposed Ticonderoga applied technology center is realistic.
“I’m optimistic this will come to fruition in Ticonderoga,” he said. “After we have the feasibility study we’ll look at the financials. Then the question is, is Ticonderoga the right place? I believe it is.”
Let’s hope Tyrell is right. The NCCC applied technology center could be the economic boost the area has been seeking for decades.