North Country economic developers reach more potential employers through joint initiative
Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - 6:27 am

By JIMMY LAWTON

While employers aren’t flooding into St. Lawrence County, IDA CEO Patrick J. Kelly says a joint marketing effort between three large economic drivers in St. Lawrence County is paying off.

Clarkson University, St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency and the River Valley Redevelopment Agency are working with CITEC Solutions to market their shared offerings to Canadian and regional businesses.

The effort began in 2011 as a way to make the most out of work that was already being done, Kelly said.

"The idea was that by pooling our resources and not duplicating efforts we could maximize our outreach," he said.

The plan was bolstered further by National Grid's Strategic Economic Development Outreach program, which will reimburse the agencies for 50 percent of their joint investments.

The plan includes a total contribution of more than $150,000 with an additional $17,500 from the Empire State Development Corp.

Kelly said marketing isn't new a new idea for any of the organizations involved, but pooling efforts allows possible investors and employers to see more of what St. Lawrence County has to offer as a whole.

Kelly said there are no big deals in the works, but added that marketing is about making contacts and explaining incentives and resources that are available when the time is right for the company.

"The timing of when a company tries to expand is always going to be at the company's discretion. Every year we reach out and let them know what we can do for them, so that when the time is right they are aware of what we have to offer," he said.

One of the newest, and perhaps most appealing, economic development incentives is the recently acquired 20 megawatts of power granted by New York Power Authority to the River Agency.

The low cost power can be allocated through the River Agency with approval from Massena Electric Department, New York Power Authority and the IDA to companies willing to locate and create jobs is the North Country.

"We had some initial inquiries, but nothing that is too far along," he said.

Kelly said the offering a low cost power incentive is a bit trickier than offering financing or operating space as it requires an analysis of the company's power usage and includes many variables when identifying savings. However, this does not mean it isn't a valuable resource.

"The good news is typically, we are showing a significant savings," he said.

Kelly said he expects the right user will take interest in the power and the area as incentives continue to grow.

"I think right now with the power and other incentives we have a more compelling offer than we have ever had," he said.