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River Agency looking to streamline community grant process

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LOUISVILLE – The St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency will once again re-examine its community grant process.

Since the agency was granted $16 million in 2010 for economic development, it is contracted to allocate up to 5 percent of its total funds toward community development projects each year.

The River Agency will spend up to $523,040 next year on community development and environmental improvement projects. That amount is down $33,290 from this year.

“[The River Agency] has done different things each year,” Industrial Development Agency CEO Patrick J. Kelly said. “Before you launch this year’s application, it’s part of the natural course of things to examine how to improve it.”

Applications last year were measured on a 30-point scale, with the amount of jobs created scoring the highest points. Last year, the agency focused on leveraging grants, or using a grant to facilitate a grant from another source.

“We had some success with that last year,” Russell B. Strait said. “It really gives us an opportunity to maximize what we’re doing here.”

But leveraging does have its drawbacks, he said.

“The problem we run into that you get a grant this year you may have to hold on to it for another year in order to make it work,” Mr. Strait said.

Mr. Strait said he will put together a proposal outlining potential funding for entrepreneurs present at the agency’s next meeting on Nov. 12.

“Another thing we would like to discuss is focusing some of this money on entrepreneurial projects in the zones that the governor has established or perhaps in other states on the east coast,” Mr. Strait said.

Meantime, the River Agency is hoping to turn into a profit a portion of the 20 megawatts of hydropower granted by the New York Power Authority not yet allocated to businesses and bring in new tenants to its Canton and Massena industrial parks.

“We’ve shown the properties a couple of times in the last two weeks,” according to Richard Williams, facilities manager for the River Agency.

Fockler Industries, an industrial and commercial machinery and equipment manufacturer, occupies 9,000 out of the 29,000 square feet of space in both lots. The budget, which has been passed by the River Agency, will go before the IDA Board of Directors Monday.

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