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Gov. Cuomo announces third round of Regional Economic Development Councils

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The north country has been successful in the last two rounds of the state’s regional economic development program and is hoping to strike gold again this year.

The third round of the program, administered through 10 Regional Economic Development Councils, was announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday and local officials already are prepared to pounce on the $220 million in capital funding and tax credits and $540 million available for state-supported programs in the 2013 competition.

In December, the North Country Regional Economic Development Council was named a top performer and awarded $90.2 million in state funds for 82 projects.

This year, the Tug Hill Commission, which works with small municipalities in the region, has been preparing its constituent communities for months.

The Consolidated Funding Application that was developed in conjunction with the councils is a key to the coffers.

The application was a major topic at the commission’s recent Local Government Conference.

It has streamlined the approach to funding projects but can be a challenge from the perspective of the municipal official applying for the funds, said Katie H. Malinowski, associate director of natural resources for the Tug Hill Commission.

Instead of a series of programs with staggered deadlines, the process now involves a single application, a single portal, which “condenses your time for writing,” Ms. Malinowski said.

Application materials will be available by June 3 and the program will be open to applicants June 17. Submissions must be turned in to regional councils by Sept. 24.

“We’ve been working with smaller communities to let them know. Those with no paid staff, it can be harder for them to figure out,” Ms. Malinowski said.

This year, $220 million — $150 million in capital and $70 million in tax credits — will be up for grabs via competition and $540 million will be available for state-supported programs through the application process.

James W. Wright, executive director of the Development Authority of the North Country and a member of the council, said that though the council has not yet seen any details on the process, he expects it to be basically the same as last year.

Part of ensuring continued success, Mr. Wright said, is to work to see that projects awarded money during earlier rounds of the program are completed.

The north country was also named a best plan awardee in 2011 and received $103.2 million for projects.

Among them: $4 million for the development of community rental housing in the area of Fort Drum and $3 million to support the construction of the Clayton hotel along the St. Lawrence River.

According to Mr. Wright, those projects are proceeding apace, with the first of seven four-story apartment buildings at COR Development Co.’s Beaver Meadows Apartments, behind Target off outer Arsenal Street, set to open at the end of the month and developers aiming for a Memorial Day 2014 opening of the Clayton Harbor Hotel project at the former Frink America site.

The Regional Economic Development Council has brought in $193.4 million for 152 projects in the north country since its inception.

The governor created the councils and the application in 2011 in an effort to change the model for economic development in the state.

The councils are “doing what the governor envisioned,” Mr. Wright said.

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