The first word in the new North Country Regional Economic Development plan — the banner headline really — is “transformational.”
Here’s a link to the document, now available in complete form, which has already been sent to Albany for review by state officials.
I want to urge In Box readers first to look through the plan and then to chime in on one question: Does it live up to that very large, very ambitious word?
Is this a menu of visions and projects that will transform the seven-county North Country in positive ways? That’s the measuring rod state officials will use when deciding which regional plan will receive a bonus allotment of $40 million.
There are things in here that I find very interesting, including a sizable loan fund for new tourism start-ups, and some micro-enterprise efforts that include a mobile poultry processing plant.
The biggest single item that the Council wants state officials to fund is the refurbishment of the industrial railroad line to the Newton Falls paper mill in southern St. Lawrence County — to the tune of nearly $10 million.
Here’s the vision statement that binds all this together:
We will energize our micropolitan cities, building on growth in the aerospace, transit equipment, defense, biotech, and manufacturing industries. Attract and nurture entrepreneurial pioneers to cultivate innovative clusters in our rural communities.
Mobilize the creativity and capacity of the graduates of our outstanding places of higher education. Catalyze the highest per capita rate of small business start-ups in the state. Elevate global recognition of the region as one of the special places on the planet to visit, live, work and study. Activate tourism as a driver to diversify our economies. Propagate an agricultural revolution as we help feed the region and the world. Create the greenest energy economy in the state.
I don’t think I’m betraying a bias when I say that this all sounds pretty great.
The question is whether this is a roadmap that might get us there? What’s your first blush opinion? Good ideas in here? Bad ideas?
And how about the process? Was it exciting to see this conversation generated locally, rather than focused in Albany? Was your voice heard? As always, your comments welcome below.