With autumn upon us, everyone at the Chamber will be focused for the next few months on one of the most important agendas we have enjoyed for years, with a number of projects and opportunities in active motion.
On the Norsk Titanium front, we should see finalization of the state’s new signature project at the old airport site, representing both a permanent footprint in the North Country by SUNY Polytechnic as well as a world class headquarters, R&D center and production facility for Norsk. We are also working actively with Clinton County, the Town of Plattsburgh and the Development Corp. on the needed pursuit of infrastructure plans for the old Clinton County Airport, not only for Norsk, but also for the future development opportunities that will flow from this venture if the property is to accommodate future development.
At Plattsburgh International Airport, the county is moving forward on plans for several new facilities that will be built or rehabilitated with the $38 million in airport funds awarded this year by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The agreed-upon aim is completion of all elements by next fall.
September saw the completion and opening of the new Institute for Advanced Manufacturing at Clinton Community College, with Chamber engagement in concerted efforts to help maximize the Institute’s value to area companies and to our economic development ambitions, while rebuilding future enrollment at CCC.
On the Quebec-New York front, we are carefully monitoring current negotiations between the United States and Canada as part of the reopening of NAFTA, engaging in all possible ways to oppose any harmful outcomes while supporting opportunities for shared enhancement. This includes the development of a strong relationship with the new U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Kelly Knight Craft, facilitated, in part, by Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.
Our North American Center of Excellence for Transportation Equipment (NAmTrans) is moving forward strongly, with resources secured through the USDA and State Senator Betty Little and our recent appointment of the initiative’s first director, Danielle Johnson.
Fall also brings the annual culmination of the Regional Economic Development Council competition for investments in the North Country. As in the past, the Chamber’s staff is playing a strong role in compiling the required annual submissions, and I and my fellow co-chair, Tony Collins, will soon be making a full presentation to the State Assessment Team. Once again we have a number of excellent projects of all kinds across the region and we have every reason to expect to do well as we have each of the last six years.
With regard to Government Affairs, we are already working with our partners at the Business Council and in the Unshackle Upstate Coalition on our legislative agenda for Albany in 2018, looking to present our needs and priorities to the Governor and Legislative leaders later this year.
We are also organizing for our Annual Strategic Planning Retreat in November which will once again engage our Board and management staff in a number of presentations and discussions regarding the North Country economy and the Chamber’s plans and priorities going forward.
Add all of our continual member services from annual open season in November/December on health insurance options to an active program of small business and other workshops around the region, and fall is definitely in “forward” mode.