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P R E S S    R E L E A S E  -  -                                                                    June 4, 2015
For more info: (518) 563-1000                                     FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE



      The North Country Chamber of Commerce, the Development Corporation and several area transportation equipment companies used the Chamber's Annual Business Expo today as an opportunity to announce the creation of the "NORTH AMERICAN CENTER OF EXCELLENCE FOR TRANSPORTATION EQUIPMENT".

     The initiative creates a "virtual center" under the umbrella of the North Country Chamber which will unify the transportation equipment cluster in the region in the interest of identifying needs and opportunities that can be jointly addressed and pursued. It mirrors similar cluster initiatives, including the Pole d'excellence quebecois en transport terrastre which is Quebec's equivalent organization for ground transportation equipment companies, and Aero Montreal which is Quebec's aerospace cluster group. 

     "Transportation equipment, which we define as including aerospace and the making and servicing of all types of equipment for movement, is the area's key emerging cluster, with the capacity to continue to evolve and grow," states Garry Douglas, Chamber President. "But we must work together to keep our existing companies competitive and to foster the ingredients for growth, ranging from workforce training programs to supply chains to advocacy in Washington and elsewhere. The Center of Excellence is designed to organize the already substantial activities of all of the partners, while also building our brand as an important new hub for the production of transportation equipment in North America."

      Douglas notes that the Center is the outgrowth "of extensive foundational work led by our partners at the Development Corporation who, over the past few years, have facilitated the initial meetings and discussions among area companies, and TDC will remain an active partner along with all of the companies and a team of economic and workforce development leaders that will include Clarkson University, SUNY Plattsburgh, Clinton Community College, CV-TEC, CITEC, the North Country Workforce Investment Board, the Regional Economic Development Council and state partners including NYSTAR and Empire State Development."

     The North American part of the identity is being defined through current discussions with the Quebec center of excellence, with a further announcement expected at their annual conference in St. Jean sur Richelieu on June 11th.


  "Our workers are good at making things," states Paul Grasso, President of the

Development Corporation. "Over the last twenty years, the North Country has developed an informal but flourishing, globally competitive transportation equipment manufacturing cluster which is a major engine of economic growth in the region. The Center of Excellence now formalizes a cluster that is a significant part of our region's long-term economic development plan, and will facilitate national and global linkages of companies, suppliers and support organizations, promoting innovation and business development. It's a real plus for the region's economy and quality of life as we work to develop a full spectrum of activities and services that will promote productivity, encompass innovation and growth and stimulate new investment."

     James Tooley of Nova Bus and John Vermette of Spencer ARL have been leading the discussions and planning efforts among the region's transportation equipment companies, and both were present to welcome the formation of the new Center. They will continue to lead the New York Transportation Equipment Cluster which will serve as the private sector component of the Center.

     "The cluster initiative is the outcome of an effort started by the Development Corporation several years ago," states Tooley.  "The focus was on the identification of sectors where individual companies could benefit by collaborating with other companies in the same or similar business. Clustering is a tool to enhance growth and competitiveness of the cluster through collaboration within the cluster, within the educational community and among the decision makers in the region. Currently, about a dozen transportation equipment companies are meeting on a monthly basis, along with SUNY Plattsburgh's Global Supply Chain Management program and with other education and community leaders, to identify supply chain gaps and to develop solutions. The Center of Excellence is now the over arching organizational vehicle to sustain this work, build the cluster partnership across the region and internationally, and fully delve into other key subjects such as human capital."

     "Clustering has long been identified as a business improvement strategy and when businesses can agree to team up for a common goal or goals, progress for all involved comes much quicker," states John Vermette of Spencer ARL. "For the local community, it's another win-win as businesses fortify their existence, expand their current presence or attract other businesses to locate nearby. Plattsburgh and the North Country have a unique situation where multiple world leaders in the manufacturing of public transportation equipment have chosen to set up shop. The creation and fostering of the cluster throgh the Center of Excellence will help them and all other supporting businesses to strengthen and improve their operations. And Spencer ARL N.Y. is excited to be a part of it!"


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