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North country council competes for state development grants

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The applications are in and the wait has begun to determine the fate of more than 100 north country projects seeking state grants from the third year of Regional Economic Development Council funding.

Monday was the deadline for project applications. Now each application has been sent to the state, where it is being examined for eligibility.

“Monday ended a very hectic period and now we’re entering a more quiet period,” said Anthony G. Collins, president of Clarkson University and co-chairman of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.

The state will take about two weeks to make sure all of the submitted projects are eligible to receive funding before sending the applications back to the north country, to be examined by the council’s scoring committee, which will help decide which projects are most deserving of funds.

Elected officials and the council’s co-chairs have no say in this scoring process, which accounts for 20 percent of the state’s final decision.

Meanwhile, the council will study the proposed projects to determine which are most important to the region. It will choose several “priority projects,” which will have a better chance of receiving larger sums of money from the state.

This year’s contest puts $550 million up for grabs for projects statewide. An additional $150 million is set aside for priority projects; of this money, the top five regions will receive $25 million each, and the bottom five must share the remaining $25 million.

The north country has been among the top regions for the first two years of the program, scoring $193.4 million, second only to Central New York.

This year’s funds have been used to expand housing near Fort Drum and repair dilapidated apartments in Ogdensburg, along with expanding high-speed Internet access and a host of other projects.

The council will finish its scoring and send its decisions to the state by Sept. 24. The state will announce how much money the north country will get, and how the region stacks up to the other nine councils, by late December.

Mr. Collins said the process has gone smoothly this year, as most council members and municipalities have grown accustomed to the process.

“The process has worked well. One of the good aspects of our region is that we’ve not had a lot of turnover of council members,” he said.

“People are now experienced in what’s required.”

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