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NYPA, Regional Officials Want to Use "Aquarium Dollars" for Tourism, Economic Development Study

Connie M. Cullen

December 2, 2005             


MASSENA—The New York Power Authority (NYPA) announced today that it intends to use money owed to it by the St. Lawrence Aquarium & Ecological Center (SLAEC) toward a comprehensive regional master plan for tourism and economic development in St. Lawrence County.

“We’re eager to direct this money to the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency [IDA] to help fund a comprehensive plan for bolstering the county’s tourism industry and overall economic development,” said Timothy S. Carey, chief operating officer, NYPA. “This area of New York has a great deal to offer visitors, including outdoor attractions and a rich history and culture. We want to support local efforts to attract tourists and create new jobs, and we believe a study of this magnitude could help steer us in the right direction.”

“I’m gratified by the Power Authority’s continued support under Governor Pataki for encouraging economic development here, beyond the low-cost hydropower it provides Alcoa and G.M. from the St. Lawrence-F.D.R. Power Project,” said Senator James W. Wright. “We want to bring together in one document some of the innovative ideas percolating for expanding our economy. So I’m appreciative of the Power Authority’s plans for the refunded money, along with its other recent efforts.”

“I think creating a master plan is an excellent use for these funds on the part of the Power Authority.  It is very important for a community to have a vision and plan for future development.  Expanding our tourism and economic development opportunities can only strengthen St. Lawrence County and support our local businesses,” Senator Raymond A. Meier said.

In September, an attorney representing the St. Lawrence Discovery Center notified NYPA it would receive $144,439 of its unexpended contribution. The money is what remains of approximately $1.6 million the Power Authority had provided the SLAEC for an aquarium project; a project that has since folded due to a lack of a successful local fundraising campaign.

St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency’s Administrative Director Raymond Fountain commented, “On behalf of the St. Lawrence County IDA I would like to express our gratitude to NYPA for their contribution toward our area’s economic development efforts.  These funds will allow us to develop a coordinated strategy for the promotion of tourism and the enhancement of our economic development efforts in St. Lawrence County.  We are clearly aware of tourism’s significant role in the economic well-being of St. Lawrence County and the region.”

Fountain went on to say, “Through a process of working with economic developers, chambers of commerce, education, industry and government leaders we feel we can best integrate the promotion of tourism into our mainstream economic development efforts.  The challenge will be to identify concepts to promote tourism, evaluate what is currently being done, determine what future projects would draw tourism and investment to this region, and improve our overall economic condition.”

“To me, it’s all about job creation and improving the quality of life in St. Lawrence County. I’m very appreciative of NYPA’s commitment to creating jobs and creating better jobs so that the people of St. Lawrence County can have a better quality of life,” said Tom Nichols, chairman, St. Lawrence County Legislature. “It’s imperative that we create a strong team and by having NYPA, Senators Jim Wright and Ray Meier, local governments and the county IDA working together, I believe we can achieve that goal of a better quality of life in St. Lawrence County.”

Earlier this year, NYPA trustees approved an agreement for the Power Authority to provide up to $10 million to bring technology companies to St. Lawrence County, as part of an ambitious plan to leverage another $20 million in private investment for creating new businesses and jobs to the region.

The $10 million the Power Authority has agreed to provide for this endeavor is part of $26 million NYPA plans to commit toward tourism and economic development efforts in the North Country.