Businesses in St. Lawrence County looking to expand and create new jobs or retain existing ones might be eligible for loans through a new $10 million fund created with commitments between the New York Power Authority and Alcoa.
The fund for low-cost loans has been established through a long-term contract between NYPA, which operates the Moses-Saunders hydropower dam on the St. Lawrence River, and the giant aluminum company, which has smelting plants in Massena that require large amounts of electric power.
“This fund will give local businesses access to the capital they need to invest in land, equipment and technology that will enable them to remain competitive in the 21st Century,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo as quoted in a news release from the New York Power Authority. “Supporting these efforts in turn will help strengthen the region’s economy and create jobs in the North Country.”
At a meeting Thursday, the Development Authority of the North Country Board of Directors approved the protocol needed to administer the loan fund jointly with the New York Power Authority and to receive applications from businesses looking to expand in St. Lawrence, Clinton, Franklin, Essex, Jefferson, Lewis, Hamilton or Herkimer counties. Expanding enterprises within the New York boundaries of the Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation are also eligible.
Applications will be reviewed regularly by the North Country Economic Development Fund Board, which consists of representatives from the New York Power Authority, the Development Authority of the North Country, the North Country Alliance and Empire State Development.
According to the agreement, for every $25,000 loaned from the fund at least one job must be created or retained.
Businesses are eligible to apply for loans of up to 30 percent of a project’s planned cost, with a ceiling for the loans set at $300,000. Businesses interested in applying for funding can visit the Development Authority of the North Country’s website at www.danc.org for more information.
John Martin, president of Alcoa U.S.’s Primary Products division, said, “Alcoa is pleased to see the creation of a loan fund that will help create and retain jobs in the North Country. We appreciate the efforts of Governor Cuomo and the New York Power Authority to leverage the funds to ensure future growth of the region, and to provide economic development opportunities for more businesses.”
The North Country Economic Development Loan Fund is available to manufacturers, agri-business, clean and green bio-technology, assemblers and wholesale distributors, warehouses for the purpose of acquisition of land, building construction and rehabilitation and for the purchase of machinery or equipment. Funding is also available for business improvement districts and not-for-profit entities eligible to apply for community revitalization projects. Retail and market applicants may also be eligible, but must meet special criteria.
“The North Country Economic Development Fund promises to be a highly effective mechanism for spurring economic development in the region, adding to a multitude of other resources in the North Country supported by NYPA,” said NYPA President and Chief Executive Officer Gil C. Quiniones.
“Providing low-interest, upfront capital to businesses looking to expand will help to support job growth and complement other measures by the Power Authority and New York State to bolster the region’s economy,” Quiniones said.
Patrick Kelly, Director of the North Country Alliance, said, “The North Country Alliance is pleased to have the added benefit of the North Country Economic Development Fund. It will be another tool in our efforts to promote economic growth in the region.”
According to the news release from NYPA announcing the new program, NYPA resources have also supported the creation of multiple economic development initiatives that are currently available to enterprises in the North Country, including: Preservation Power, the Greater Massena Economic Development Fund and low-cost power and funding through the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency. In total, more than $25 million and 25 megawatts are still available for deployment, which does not include the roughly 173 megawatts still available for businesses and not-for-profit organizations through the state ReCharge NY initiative.
Alcoa has also expanded funding for its workforce development training program for current employees to train for technical jobs that will be needed in Massena. Alcoa has been a customer of the New York Power Authority since the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project was first placed into commercial operation in 1958.