Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the establishment of the North Country Economic Development Fund on Thursday, which will help businesses across eight counties tap into low-interest loans.
Designed to help businesses expand and create jobs, the $10 million fund was created as a result of a long-term power contract between the New York Power Authority and Alcoa. On Thursday, the Development Authority of the North Country’s board of directors agreed to administer the fund, according to an agreement made with NYPA.
In a statement, Gov. Cuomo lauded the establishment of the fund as a boon for small businesses to stay competitive.
“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,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Supporting these efforts will in turn help strengthen the region’s economy and create jobs in the North Country.”
James W. Wright, executive director of DANC, said the fund will have a major impact on businesses across the north country.
“We think it’s a great tool to be utilized to assist in economic development in the north country,” he said. “There’s always an absence of capital available in the north country, and having an additional source of funds to be committed is an advantage.
In addition, it can help leverage other sources of money that can be available to businesses.”
DANC will take loan applications from businesses looking to expand in St. Lawrence, Clinton, Franklin, Essex, Jefferson, Lewis, Hamilton and Herkimer counties. Expanding enterprises within the state boundaries of the Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation also are eligible.
For every $25,000 lent 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 the planned project cost, with the ceiling for the loans set at $300,000. Funding applications will be reviewed by a board representatives from the authority, NYPA, North Country Alliance and Empire State Development.
Funding will be available to manufacturers, agribusinesses, technology companies, assemblers, wholesale distributors and warehouses. It will be available for building construction and rehabilitation, land acquisition and the purchase of machinery or equipment. Funding is also available for business improvement districts and nonprofit entities eligible to apply for community revitalization projects. Retail and market applicants also may be eligible, but must meet special criteria in order to be considered for a loan.
Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO of the New York Power Authority, said in a statement that the fund will be an effective mechanism for spurring economic development.
“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,” he said.
By Ted Booker, Times Staff Writer