Regional Economic Development Council grant money a home run for the region

Thoughts from Behind the Pressline

It was no easy task. Certainly not a slam dunk. But neither was it sheer luck that the North Country Regional Economic Development Council was awarded $103.2 million dollars, second highest amount awarded, for the Best Plan among the 10 regions vying for state support. The group headed by Tony Collins of Clarkston University and Garry Douglas of the North Country Chamber reached wide and deep throughout the region to bring together the area’s brightest talent.

But how could this small rural region without much of a prior history of working together pull off such a major victory? Only a day before the awards were handed out in Albany, I heard Garry Douglas tell a group of business representatives that the region had achieved a great victory just by coming together and creating its long term plan. Privately there must have been some glimmer of hope that the plan would be competitive but publicly no one was seen celebrating a pending or anticipated award. Not even a wink or hint that such an award was within their grasp. They were content with putting forth their best effort and with the opportunity to compete.

Making up the North Country Region are the Counties of Clinton, Lewis, Essex, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Hamilton, and Jefferson with the cities of Watertown and Plattsburgh as anchors or micropolitan hubs as defined in the plan. Few would think of this portion of the state as an integral cog in the state’s economic engine to help New York re-gain its lofty position as a global leader. With the two major interstates serving the region running north and south, I-81 and I-87, there is no common link between the two hubs. Each is better known as a gateway or corridor to other major cities within the state or Canada.

Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. Reach him at dan@denpubs.com.

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