News Column

ESD awards $1 million to North Country

July 27, 2014

By Dan Heath, The Press-Republican, Plattsburgh, N.Y.



July 27--WATERTOWN -- Empire State Development has awarded the Development Authority of the North Country a $1 million grant for its agribusiness revolving loan fund.

Development Authority Executive Director James Wright said the money will allow them to expand a program previously available in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

It will now be available in Clinton, Essex, Franklin and Hamilton counties as well.

He said it is rewarding to see funds awarded for a program identified as a priority project by the Economic Development Council, which named agriculture and tourism as two of the region's key economic development resources.

One example of how the two are linked would be to assist production of organic milk, which could then be used to make gourmet cheese.

That cheese can then be offered at wineries, which help attract tourists to the region.

EARLIER SUCCESS

In Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, the program previously focused on drainage improvements through the use of agricultural tile in fields and for maple syrup production, he said.

The Development Authority provided $150,000 in loan funds that resulted in loans of $386,000 through repayment and reuse of the funds.

The loans leveraged an additional $478,000 in private investment, Wright said.

"Both have been successful," he said. "There has been no default on the loans, just as we suspected."

KEY AIM

North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas, co-chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, welcomed the news of $ million for an agribusiness revolving loan fund.

"Building the North Country's agricultural base by helping producers to gain added value from their operations has been a key aim of the regional economic development plan from the start," he said by email.

"This new revolving loan fund will provide a means to assist with the development, for example, of new agri-tourism ventures in the region, thereby building both our agricultural and tourism sectors."

The revolving loan fund is to be administered by the Development Authority, which is accepting inquiries at this point.

'BRIGHT FUTURE'

Wright said loans can be up to $250,000, and they are looking for applicants who can provide additional investment.

The Development Authority will also be working with Cornell Cooperative Extension, which will ensure projects are viable and be able to provide technical assistance.

Wright said the agriculture designation covers a wide gamut, such as produce, dairy, wineries, maple syrup, honey, woody biomass and more.

"The North Country has a long history with agriculture and certainly a bright future with agriculture," he said.

BRITISH AIR SHOW

The funds are part of $10 million awarded to 19 projects across the state.

The award also included $68,000 for the North Country Chamber of Commerce to offset costs to attend and promote the region at the 2014 Farnborough Air Show outside of London earlier this month.

Douglas said the chamber once again coordinated and operated the New York state pavilion at the show on behalf of Empire State Development.

Taking part, he said, offers the opportunity to be seen by thousands of aviation- and transportation-related attendees and arrange dozens of meetings with executives.

"In serving this role, we are able to visibly market Plattsburgh International Airport at the world's largest aviation and aerospace trade event at no cost to the chamber or airport," he said.

'STRATEGIC LOCATION'

"This is how we continue to build global awareness of the assets and strategic location of Plattsburgh as Montreal'sU.S. airport and aerospace industrial park," Douglas said.

"Global aviation and aerospace is a large but focused community requiring this sort of annual commitment to visibility and to refreshing and establishing contacts.

"We are following up with a number of those contacts, and we thank Gov. Cuomo and the state for their continued confidence and support."

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(c)2014 the Press-Republican (Plattsburgh, N.Y.)

Visit the Press-Republican (Plattsburgh, N.Y.) at pressrepublican.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: Press-Republican (Plattsburgh, NY)


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