A consortium of North Country counties, towns and organizations has received $1 million from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to create a comprehensive smart growth plan for regional sustainability.
The grant is part of the Cleaner Greener Communities program, an environmental initiative announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in his 2011 State of the State address.
The consortium, led by representatives from each of the seven North Country counties, will develop a smart growth plan that encompasses the North Country Regional Economic Development Council area. Essex County is the municipal sponsor for the North Country's Cleaner Greener Communities initiative.
"The North Country is a special place to visit, live, work and study because of its people and their stewardship of the natural environment," Clarkson University President Tony Collins, co-chair of the NCREDC, said in a press release. "This initiative gives each region the ability to identify projects that will help communities become stronger and more resilient, as well as promote and enhance local business."
The council's other co-chair, North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas, said the smart growth initiative is a key element to the region's economic development plan.
"The development of renewable energy such as biomass, hydro and wind is a key strategy, and the funding secured from NYSERDA will be the first step toward defining and pursuing a roadmap for converting opportunity into economic progress," he said.
The development of a comprehensive regional sustainability plan is the first phase of the Cleaner Greener Communities program. It's intended to provide resources that each region of the state can use to develop its own vision, goals and objectives for a sustainable future. The plan also identifies actions needed to achieve that future and outlines metrics to measure success.
Only one award was made in each region of the state, according to the press release.
Once the plan is developed, additional funding will be available from the Cleaner Greener Communities program on a competitive basis to implement projects that support the goals of the plans. Projects must create opportunities for achieving carbon reductions, energy efficiency savings and/or renewable energy deployment, while enhancing job creation, economic investment and development consistent with the region's sustainability and REDC strategic plan.
The Adirondack North Country Association and Ecology and Environment Inc. will provide consulting support to the coalition by organizing stakeholder engagement processes and technical expertise required to undertake a greenhouse gas inventory, develop sustainability indicators and identify projects to be in included in the plan.