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Council finalizes application for third round of state funds

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CANTON — The North Country Regional Economic Development Council has finalized its list of priority projects for the latest state funding competition. The council met Friday at St. Lawrence University to finalize its annual progress report, which will be submitted to the state soon.

The report will not be made public until the submission deadline Tuesday.

“It is really the culmination of our year,” council Co-Chairman Anthony G. Collins said. “We are confident that we put forward our best efforts.”

This year’s competition will determine how up to $760 million in state money is distributed among 10 regions.

This is the third year of funding since Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo created the councils.

More than 100 project applications were submitted to the council in August. Most of these will be eligible for state funding, but only a few will be chosen as priority projects.

These priority projects will have access to a special pool of $150 million in state money. The regions with the top five proposals each will receive $25 million of this pool, while the bottom five must share the remaining $25 million.

The north country has been among the winners in the first two years of the program, scoring $193.4 million, second only to Central New York.

This year’s priority projects will span the entire region, Mr. Collins said. The focus will be on the creation of jobs in the private sector.

While the council has fought against the closing of St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center, Ogdensburg, and area prisons, Mr. Collins acknowledged that state jobs are only a portion of what it takes to drive the north country economy.

“We recognize that bigger, long-term economic development needs to come from the private sector,” he said.

Council member Kate E. Fish, executive director of the Adirondack North Country Association, said this year’s efforts were marked by confidence and optimism that the north country once again will be favored by decision-makers in Albany.

“There is a level of maturity and very solid progress on the goals and vision that we set up in the first year,” she said. “The progress is unbelievable.”

In the north country, she said, a little bit goes a long way.

“For a relatively small investment up here, you have a huge impact,” she said.

The state is expected to make its decisions in late December.

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