Press-Republican

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December 20, 2012

North Country wins $90.2 million for economic development

PLATTSBURGH — It was another banner day for the North Country at the state’s Regional Economic Development Council Awards, as the region pulled in $90.2 million for a variety of projects.

The North Country plan, labeled a “top performer,” rated the fifth-highest total of the 10 regions that were given funding at Wednesday’s ceremony at Hart Theatre in Albany. In 2011, the initial year of the program, the North Country had the second-highest total with $103.2 million.

Although the funding is not as high as last year, officials were still pleased.

“To walk away with almost $200 million in two years — we’ll take it,” said Garry Douglas, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce.

He co-chairs the North Country Council with Anthony “Tony” Collins, Clarkson University president.

Among the projects that will receive funding in this round are International Paper in Ticonderoga, the Strand Theatre in downtown Plattsburgh and the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks and Wild Center in Tupper Lake.

International Paper will get $1.75 million to convert the existing power plant from heating oil to natural gas. Douglas said the funding should help the plant retain the 600 jobs there, plus about 600 more jobs associated with suppliers to the mill.

“This is a good example of how development is not just about bringing good jobs to an area but taking care of the jobs we have,” Douglas said.

“Energy costs are very high for them, and this was the best way to help them.”

‘A HUGE BOOST’

The Strand will receive $500,000 toward its renovations, which is one of the final construction funding pieces in the six-year-long project to transform the 1924-circa theater into a performing arts center.

“We really appreciate the fact that the council sees the Strand as an economic driver,” North Country Cultural Center for the Arts Board of Directors President Leigh Mundy said.

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