Cuomo announces fund offering $10M in loans for NNY businesses

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

High tunnel in Watertown shelters raspberries from elements (VIDEO)

Gail C. Millard stands at the entrance of his high tunnel, which has led to a bumper crop of raspberries for the Watertown grower. Norm Johnston / NNY Business

Gail C. Millard stands at the entrance of his high tunnel, which has led to a bumper crop of raspberries for the Watertown grower. Norm Johnston / NNY Business

Mother Nature needs to be tamed for raspberries to thrive in the north country.

And for Gail C. Millard, a high tunnel with temperature-controlled curtains built in the summer of 2012 has gotten that job done at Little m Farm off County Road 64 in the town of Watertown. The 66-year-old, who invested about $15,000 to build the tunnel, said he expects the harvest of its three rows of raspberry canes to be excellent this fall.

Since July, he has picked enough raspberries to fill 15 to 50 half-pints each week. Half-pints are sold for $3 apiece at his store, which also offers an array of fresh vegetables and fruits grown on the farm. Most of the raspberries are sold to members of a Burrville-based community-supported agriculture program called Miracles by the Acre.

Years of planning the tunnel have finally paid off for Mr. Millard, who said it has safeguarded the plants from the elements and tempered hot summer weather to create ideal growing conditions.

“We’re not harvesting a lot yet, but it keeps up with the product I’m selling right now,” said Mr. Millard, who operates the business with his wife, Ann M. “There was a steep learning curve, and it took a lot of work to do this.” [Read more...]

Plan for Honda dealership takes 90 degree turn toward I-81

Andrew R. Nevin, senior planner for the Jefferson County Planning Department, reviewed a site plan Tuesday for F.X. Caprara’s Honda dealership proposed at the corporate park off Bradley Street during the Planning Board meeting in the village of Clayton. Ted Booker / NNY Business

Andrew R. Nevin, senior planner for the Jefferson County Planning Department, reviewed a site plan Tuesday for F.X. Caprara’s Honda dealership proposed at the corporate park off Bradley Street during the Planning Board meeting in the village of Clayton. Ted Booker / NNY Business

The Honda dealership planned at the Bradley Street corporate park is expected to take a 90-degree turn, according to a site plan presented Tuesday during the Jefferson County Planning Board’s meeting at the town’s headquarters in the Clayton Opera House.

The 30,000-square-foot building would face Interstate 81, not Bradley Street, according to a last-minute change sought by F.X. Caprara Auto Sales, said Michael B. Lasell, owner of MBL Engineering of Sandy Creek. Mr. Lasell said during the meeting that F.X. Caprara hopes the change, which was made to attract more traffic from I-81 to the business off Bradley Street, will receive final approval Sept. 3 from the town of Pamelia Planning Board. The County Planning Board voted to recommend the site plan for approval after hearing a report about the dealership, which would be built next to the Exit 47 interchange off I-81 at the northern end of the corporate park planned in the town of Pamelia by Purcell Construction Co., Watertown.

“The owner is looking to rotate the building 90 degrees,” Mr. Lasell said, referring to Charles G. Caprara, co-owner of the F.X. Caprara franchise. “It’s a change we want to move forward with at the next town meeting, assuming they won’t require another public hearing and meeting.”

If the Pamelia Planning Board approves the site plan, F.X. Caprara will need only a 30-day traffic impact study to be completed by the state Department of Transportation for the project to move ahead, Mr. Lasell said. Obtaining that approval would allow Purcell to start building water and sewer lines to the parcel this fall, he said. F.X. Caprara will accept bids from contractors this fall for the construction of the building. It plans to open the dealership in March. [Read more...]

Construction starts on Precision Wash at

D.C. Builders of Watertown works on a new Precision Car Wash on Eastern Boulevard on Monday. The car wash will open in December with five bays. Justin Sorensen / NNY Business

D.C. Builders of Watertown works on a new Precision Car Wash on Eastern Boulevard on Monday. The car wash will open in December with five bays. Justin Sorensen / NNY Business

Construction workers have begun building a Precision Wash car wash outside Northland Plaza off Eastern Boulevard — a project that is expected to improve the look of the long-vacant parcel.

D.C. Builders of Watertown, the general contractor for the project, started construction about two weeks ago on the 3,300-square-foot building near State CS Employees Federal Credit Union, foreman Richard C. Clark said. Construction of the automatic car wash, which will have five bays and operate 24/7, is expected to be completed by December, he said. [Read more...]

Corning Canton plant expansion praised as partnership; officials break ground on $21 million expansion

Clarkson University President Anthony C. Collins speaks Thursday at the groundbreaking Corning’s expansion at the Canton plant. Melanie Kimbler-Lago / NNY Business

Clarkson University President Anthony C. Collins speaks Thursday at the groundbreaking Corning’s expansion at the Canton plant. Melanie Kimbler-Lago / NNY Business

The sky was cloudy, but moods were sunny Thursday morning as officials gathered to break ground on a $21 million expansion project expected to create 40 permanent jobs at the Corning Inc. plant.

Speakers credited the project as a public-private partnership that could prompt other companies to invest in the region.

“When you put all those pieces together, it’s a mosaic. It’s a team creating jobs for our region, jobs for our sons and daughters,” said Anthony C. Collins, co-chairman of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council and president of Clarkson University, Potsdam.

As officials spoke, bulldozers and cranes prepared the site for the 30,700-square-foot expansion.

The building will include 23,500 square feet for increased production and a 7,200-square-foot warehouse. The project is expected to create about 70 temporary construction jobs.

A strong workforce and proximity to colleges were also credited as factors that made the Canton plant a choice for investment. [Read more...]

Developer plans 359 more townhouses with connector road to Watertown mall

Morgan Management, Pittsford, plans to build a 359-unit townhouse complex to the east of County Route 202 including a connector road to the Salmon Run Mall Loop, according to a site plan submitted this month to the Town Planning Board.

Morgan Management, Pittsford, plans to build a 359-unit townhouse complex to the east of County Route 202 including a connector road to the Salmon Run Mall Loop, according to a site plan submitted this month to the Town Planning Board.

Morgan Management plans to build a 359-unit townhouse complex to the east of County Route 202 that would include a connector to Salmon Run Mall built by the town, according to a site plan submitted to the Planning Board.

The Pittsford developer plans to start construction in November at the 54.6-acre site north of Walmart Supercenter. The project comes as the developer works toward finishing construction of its 394-unit Preserve at Autumn Ridge complex, on the other side of the road, by next summer.

Blueprints designed by Costich Engineering, Rochester, indicate a project including 42 seven-unit and 13 five-unit townhouse buildings, along with a 5,500-square-foot clubhouse, outdoor pool and playground. The two- and-three bedroom rental units will have the same layout as those being built in the Autumn Ridge complex. [Read more...]

Missile site considered for Fort Drum could employ 1,800

Maj. Chris J. Anderson, center, gives an overview of the proposed missile site at Fort Drum, during a meeting at Carthage High School on Tuesday. Amanda Morrison / NNY Business

Maj. Chris J. Anderson, center, gives an overview of the proposed missile site at Fort Drum, during a meeting at Carthage High School on Tuesday. Amanda Morrison / NNY Business

Residents got their first look Tuesday at what a potential missile defense site at Fort Drum could mean for the region: a facility costing as much as $4 billion to build that would create as many as 1,800 permanent jobs.

The sprawling site, covering hundreds of acres along Route 3A, initially would contain 20 ground-based interceptors, with the ability to expand to 60 interceptors, designed to shoot down incoming enemy missiles. The Defense Department says the missiles would be for defensive purposes and would not contain warheads.

The military has not decided whether a site is need on the East Coast to augment America’s current missile defense locations at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. If such a facility is ultimately approved, however, Fort Drum is on the short list of sites to host it.

The economic impact on the north country would be substantial. The site would create 400 to 600 temporary construction jobs, and an estimated 1,200 to 1,800 permanent military, civilian and contractor jobs, according to Lt. Col. Chris W. Snipes, program manager for continental United States interceptor sites. [Read more...]

Developer urges city lawmakers to build Stateway Plaza road

Patrick M. Donegan heard rumors that City Council members are not interested in spending the money to construct a connector road that would go through the parking lot of Stateway Plaza.

So the Alexandria Bay developer showed up at Monday night’s meeting to lobby the Watertown City Council to move forward with the project that has been talked about for years.

“I’m getting impatient and nervous,” he said.

He reminded council members that they promised to construct the road before he invested $30 million in Watertown City Center, where the Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Express, Ruby Tuesday and other retailers are located.

In recent years, several high-end retailers also have shown an interest in the last remaining vacant land at the development site, off Arsenal Street and near Interstate 81, he said. But the big-box retailers all have said the same thing — they won’t come unless the road is constructed, he said.

“You’re going to get a return on your investment,” he said. “It’s not a loser.”

After hearing what the developer had to say, Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said council members were planning to discuss the matter in executive session later in the night.

Before the closed-door session began, City Attorney James A. Burrows declined comment about the status of acquiring the needed property from plaza owners Ben Wygodny and Martin Wenger, both of Montreal.

Six weeks ago, Mr. Burrows said the city might initiate eminent domain proceedings to obtain the land needed for the project after the owners failed to respond to city’s requests to purchase it for $345,000.

In June, Mr. Burrows said he was preparing to start the proceedings.

The City Council has been divided on the issue. The road would connect Arsenal Street through the Stateway Plaza parking lot to Gaffney Drive at the northern end.

But Mr. Donegan reminded council members that the city annexed a portion of the Watertown City Center site from the town, so he could develop the property.

For that portion of the site, his development has generated 390 jobs, $5 million in sales taxes and $4 million in property taxes for Jefferson County, he said.

Critics expressed concern about the exorbitant cost of building the road. The most recent projection came in at $1.75 million.

By Craig Fox, Times Staff Writer

Jefferson County sheriff candidates say department’s armored truck to be used only in “extreme” circumstances

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department’s new MRAP after a paint job last fall. The protests in Ferguson, Mo., have prompted debate on the use of police force. Amanda Morrison / NNY Business

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department’s new MRAP after a paint job last fall. The protests in Ferguson, Mo., have prompted debate on the use of police force. Amanda Morrison / NNY Business

What do Watertown, N.Y.; Watertown, Conn., and Watertown, Wis., have in common?

Law enforcement agencies in or near all three cities have large armored vehicles given to them by the same federal government program receiving renewed attention as an indirect result of protests over the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

Law enforcement officials in that city, which has a population of roughly 21,000, have been criticized for using military-style equipment and tactics to dispel the protestors, a strategy some observers have said has only exacerbated the situation.

Last September, Jefferson County acquired a $600,000, 21-ton, 2008 International MaxxPro Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle through the 1033 program, which authorizes the transfer of excess Department of Defense property to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies for use in counter-drug and counterterrorism activities.

The vehicle was the subject of some controversy in the weeks following the news that it had been acquired, with some Jefferson County legislators calling it “excessive.” [Read more...]

Florelle plant in Brownville could reopen this fall

Florelle Tissue Corp. President Harry Minas, seen in 2011 with the Brownville factory in the background, is looking for financiers for a potential merger to rescue the company from its debt. Norm Johnston / NNY Business

Florelle Tissue Corp. President Harry Minas, seen in 2011 with the Brownville factory in the background, is looking for financiers for a potential merger to rescue the company from its debt. Norm Johnston / NNY Business

Florelle Tissue Corp., temporarily shuttered for about a year and strapped with debt, could start making paper products again on a limited basis this fall.

Company President Harry Minas said Wednesday that electrical repairs needed to reopen the plant were finished in June. A transformer that supplies three-phase power to the plant’s eight papermaking machines failed, forcing the plant to close in August 2013. The company has been unable to make payments on public loans.

Mr. Minas said about $40,000 in personal funding was invested to repair the transformer, but more funding will be needed to make the plant operational this fall. [Read more...]