Is this locally-produced North Country economic plan “transformational”?

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.

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10 Comments on “Is this locally-produced North Country economic plan “transformational”?”

  1. Plans aren’t transformational. Actions are.

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  2. Paul says:

    The plan is one hundred pages of size 6 font. Better give me some time!

    Has anyone yet read this whole thing? Brian did you?

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  3. Brian Mann says:

    Paul – The short version is heck no.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  4. John Schaff says:

    Brian: First, I have not read the document, but from the vision statement (and having been on committees) I would guess that the authors tried not to leave any significant group out of the picture which usually means the picture has no real focus. Green can be good but I think we have seen it can also be oversold.

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  5. myown says:

    Hamilton Co residents may be interested in one of the proposals: “This project will install both middle mile and last mile fiber optic facilities to provide broadband service several communities in Hamilton County, which currently have no existing broadband capacity as defined by the FCC.”

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  6. Paul says:

    This Executive summary lacks one key element. A summary of what is proposed?? Most business schools would give it a D at best. And since the ES lacks what is proposed specifically it would never make it past the initial screen for potential investors if this was a real business plan.

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  7. JDM says:

    I skimmed through the document. I really do applaud the effort that is being made and I hope it turns into something.

    I do laugh at the construct of the executive summary. It reads like a caption from Dilbert. Take all the words in the “power” language dictionary and rearrange them to make sentences, and voila! an executive summary is born.

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  8. Pete Klein says:

    I give the committee A for effort and I give the governor A for a snowball in hell of an idea.
    The money is old money. What the governor has done is to create a game of rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic while it is sinking. Or we could call it musical chairs played upon the Titanic.
    I am truly sorry but I view the governor as a scam artist.

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  9. Jim Bullard says:

    A couple of things jumped out at me in a skim of the whole report. Teh first was the term “micropolitan” cities. I got accustomed to a certain amount of business speak while working at DOL but micropolitan is a new one to me. When I start seeing that sort of thing I wonder who they are trying to impress.

    The second was of more concern, the reference in the proposal to rehab the rail line to Newton Falls in order to service the paper mill and the “operations at Benson Mines”. I have spent parts of two days in the last week photographing Benson Mines (art photos) and doing a bit of research on it (personal curiosity). It has been closed for 33 years, the infrastructure is derelict and the site is a brownfield. The only “operations” I’ve heard of in relation to Benson Mines is the need to clean it up. Would a rail line be needed to do that?

    Of course it is entirely possible that some plan exists to reopen the mines. It was once the largest mine of its type in the world and did have the highest grade ore but it is odd that they mention operations at a defunct mine without saying what those operations are.

    Part V does contain specific projects and assessment of the projects. My initail response is that they propose we do more of the same that we are doing. Probably a good idea for those things that show promise but “Transformational”? I wouldn’t call it that.

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  10. oa says:

    Actually, Jim, the term “micropolitan” has been around a while…
    http://www.policom.com/microrank.htm
    http://www.apnmag.com/winter_2007/kasamabusiness.php

    Second, while JDM’s comment is hilarious and true, you have to cut these folks some slack. They had to turn this around in less than three months thanks to Cuomo’s deadlines, while at the same time traveling the regions soliciting and listening to public input. That produced urgency, but it’s also inevitably going to produce some sloppiness, oversights and rehash of old plans.

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