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Chamber group presents projects to county IDA

A newly-formed business alliance pitched three projects to the Franklin County Industrial Development Agency last week.

The Franklin County Chamber Alliance consists of the Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake, and Malone area chambers of commerce and is the county's largest business organization.

Appearing before the Franklin County IDA's Board of Directors in Malone last Wednesday, officials with the alliance outlined three projects that aim to boost the regional economy.

Hugh Hill is president of the Malone Chamber of Commerce. He says each project is rooted in one of the three geographic areas in Franklin County.

In the northern end of the county, chamber officials are planning an agricultural incubator project. Hill says the initiative would "assist companies and individuals" in the production of "value-added" agricultural goods.

According to Hill, the project would take advantage of those commodities that are already grown and produced within Franklin County.

The second project being proposed by the chamber alliance would establish a pre-packaged set of financial assistance instruments to offer potential investors and developers interested in setting up shop in Saranac Lake.

Hill says the project "mitigates the return on investment challenges" faced by the area.

The third project explores the IDA's role in the establishment of the Adirondack Public Observatory. Hill calls the effort an "exciting and ambitious" project that could potentially brand Tupper Lake as a leader in the "dark skies" movement, which aims to bring stargazers to areas with little manufactured night-time light.

Backers of the observatory say Tupper Lake could become an "educational and environmental Mecca." Hill says the economic benefits of the proposed Adirondack Public Observatory will "ripple though the economy of Franklin County."

Hill adds that over the past year, the Franklin County Chamber Alliance has identified agriculture and tourism as the two most important areas of economic opportunity in the county.

"We believe that by building on these opportunities, the economy and quality of life in the North Country can be improved," Hill said, noting that these three projects "take advantage of segments of our economy that have the potential to grow and prosper in the short and long term."

The chamber alliance is also leading the charge to enact an occupancy tax in Franklin County.

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