SARANAC LAKE - The North Country Regional Economic Development Council's final strategic plan has been submitted to the state, and it identifies scientist recruitment at Saranac Lake's Trudeau Institute as one of its priority projects.
The council - which represents Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties - calls its final plan "Transformational: Leading the Economic Renaissance of New York's Small Cities and Rural Communities." It can be viewed at www.northcountryopenforbusiness.com.
North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas, one of the council's co-chairs, said in a press release that the plan defines the region's unique opportunities and builds a "powerful platform" for future economic development. He said the plan has three "macro strategies," including job creation and retention, strengthening of existing resources, and leveraging the strategic plan to improve the regional and statewide economy.
"The process we used worked, giving us an economic roadmap that we are convinced is both visionary and practical at the same time, while encompassing, in a compelling way, the breadth and depth of our region's economic diversity," Douglas said.
The council identified 16 "priority projects" it wants the state to consider for financial support. The council said the projects will create or retain more than 1,350 jobs, $255 million in capital investment and nearly $40 million in state investment.
In the Tri-Lakes region, the council named one priority project: medical research team recruitment at the Trudeau Institute in Saranac Lake. The council said the organization wants to "recruit and establish four faculty level scientists and their research teams" at the Saranac Lake research facility. That action, the council said, will "attract competitive funding from the National Institutes of Health and related organizations."
Terry Gach of Trudeau Institute is on the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. The Saranac Laker is the only Tri-Lakes resident on the council.
Saranac Lake village Mayor Clyde Rabideau was pleased with the council's support.
"Though we're smaller than the cities in the region, we've proven our creativity, cooperation and economic clout with our up-and-coming biotech industry endeavors, so much so, that now we're deemed a strategic component in regional job growth," Rabideau said in a prepared statement.
Rabideau noted that on Monday, the village Board of Trustees approved a lease agreement with Myriad RDM, a biotech firm that will move into the village office on Main Street in the spring. The village would move its offices into the nearby Harrietstown Town Hall. The village is also working on lease terms with another biotech firm, Active Motif, which plans to move into the neighboring village water department building, forming what Rabideau calls a "bio-cluster" in Saranac Lake.
Rabideau said the emerging bio-cluster "is a catalyst for more private sector, sustainable job growth in Saranac Lake."
Earlier this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state would make $1 billion available for 10 regional economic councils. That includes $200 million in competitive funding. Four regions will compete for up to $40 million in capital funding and tax credits to go toward priority projects.
Other priority projects identified by the North Country council include transit plant expansion at the Bombardier facility in Plattsburgh, community rental housing in and around Fort Drum, development of branding for the North Country region and building a broadband Internet system in Hamilton County.