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8/14/2017   - USDA Awards Funds to Chamber

P R E S S    R E L E A S E  -  -                                                                          July 25, 2017

For more info: (518) 563-1000                                     FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

      The North Country Chamber of Commerce has been awarded a $74,000 Rural Business Development Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The funding will further the Chamber's development of the North American Center of Excellence for Transportation Equipment (NAmTrans) as a cluster organization supporting the North Country's  34 Transportation Equipment and Aerospace companies. Rural Business Development Grants are intended to support economic growth and job opportunities in rural regions like the North Country.

      "Clustering is a key economic development strategy," states Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber. "Over the last twenty years, we have steadily built a diverse and dynamic cluster of transportation equipment and aerospace manufacturers which now employs more than 8,100 people across the seven county region and which has the power to continue to attract more companies in this sector who want to share the supply chain and workforce support systems now in place. Norsk Titanium is a great example, having selected Plattsburgh as the site of their $300 million project in part because of the strong cluster already here and in neighboring Montreal."

      According to Douglas, the USDA funds will support the next level of development of NAmTrans, including retention of a fulltime Director and direct services for cluster companies including workforce development and recruitment, technical assistance and supply chain support, among other activities.  The $74,000 in federal funding will be matched with $15,000 from the Workforce Development Institute and $10,000 from the Chamber.

      "The mission of the Workforce Development Institute is to assist in growing and keeping good jobs in New York State," says Greg Hart, WDI Regional Director for the North Country. "It has been very rewarding to partner with the North Country Chamber on the NAmTrans project. This effort will certainly further strengthen and develop this key sector, bringing new technologies and skills to our region."

      "We thank our friends at the Workforce Development Institute for partnering with us in this project, the Development Corporation for helping us to organize NAmTrans two years ago, and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer for their enthusiastic support and encouragement," notes Douglas, "as well as the Chamber's Vice President for Economic Development, Susan Matton, who pulled the project together and wrote the grant proposal."

      NAmTrans was established two years ago as a subsidiary of the North Country Chamber of Commerce, and was modeled after the Pole d'excellence quebecois en transport terrestre (Quebec Ground Transportation Cluster) with which NAmTrans and the Chamber have a Partnership Agreement and which served as a mentor and advisor. NAmTrans and the North Country Chamber also signed a Partnership Agreement with Aero Montreal, the Quebec aerospace cluster, in April.

      The North Country Chamber of Commerce is the largest business and economic development organization in northern New York, linking more than 4,000 employers across Clinton, Franklin, Essex, Hamilton and northern Warren Counties and Akwesasne. It plays a leading strategic role in cross border commerce with Canada, the attraction of foreign direct investment, infrastructure development, and attracting and supporting transportation equipment and aerospace companies to the North Country.

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