08.21.20

AFTER SECURING + $87,000 FOR NORTH COUNTRY COMMUNITY COLLEGE’S WATER AND WASTEWATER OPERATOR CERTIFICATION PROGRAM, SCHUMER CALLS FOR MORE NBRC FUNDINGTO FUEL ECONOMIC AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT IN THE NORTH COUNTRY

A Federal-State Partnership, NBRC Provides Economic Development Funding For Distressed Communities; Previously Approved Projects Support Entrepreneurs, Improve Water, Broadband, And Transportation Infrastructure, And Promote Other Initiatives To Improve The Region’s Economy

Senator Says Support For NBRC Programs Is More Important Than Ever To Assist Underserved Communities In The North Country Rebuild And Recover From The COVID Economic Crisis 

Schumer: The Federal Government Needs to Step Up And Invest In Our Rural Communities Across The North Country and Upstate New York

Standing in front of the campus library at North Country Community College (NCCC), U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced a $89,700 grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) for NCCC to develop a water and wastewater operator certification program to train workers needed to fill the surplus of available water and wastewater operator positions for the North Country region.

“Community Colleges are the backbone of the higher education system in Upstate New York, equipping workers with the skills they need to get and keep good-paying jobs that will help to revitalize local economies,” said Senator Schumer. “This grant for North Country Community College is not only an investment into strengthening the region’s water and wastewater infrastructure, it is an investment in good jobs that support the community and future of the North Country region.”

In addition to personally congratulating the faculty and staff who worked on the grant, the senator today called for more federal funding for the NBRC and explained that as the North Country seeks to rebuild and recover from the devastating economic impacts of the ongoing COVID crisis, the NBRC programs which help fuel economic and community development in underserved areas in the region are more important than ever.

“The Northern Border Commission has a special role to play in spurring economic development and creating jobs. They provide support to communities across the North Country and Upstate New York, working to complete priority projects to improve economic opportunity and quality of life,” added Senator Schumer.

The senator is calling for supplemental funding for the NBRC to be included in the next COVID relief package to help meet the increased demand for the Commission’s assistance to help rural and economically distressed communities across Upstate New York respond to and recover from the economic challenges brought on by COVID-19. This funding, for example, can support efforts to wire more communities and households with high-speed internet to help adjust to the need for online services during this pandemic. NBRC funds can also be tapped for revolving loan programs to help small businesses stay afloat and once again thrive. The senator is also calling for a temporary change to NBRC’s requirements for matching funds given the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the budgets of local governments and organizations. By giving the NBRC the discretion to increase the federal share of funding for projects up to 100 percent, critical projects will not be held back at a time when economic investment is needed.

The funding for NCCC announced by Schumer is one of three NRBC awards for the North Country. Other awards include $200,000 for the Development Authority of the North Country to install 5.5 miles of fiber for the business community, create 3 wireless hot-spots, and provide broadband access to 125 unserved homes in Tupper Lake, and $789,567 for the Town of Essex to implement upgrades to an existing municipal water treatment plant to comply with state and federal regulations. These upgrades will include the addition of a new filtration system to adequately meet seasonal water demands and drinking water standards.

The NBRC is a federal-state partnership focused on the economic revitalization of communities across the Northern Border region, which includes northern Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. The Commission is composed of the governors of the four Northern Border states and a federal co-chair, and provides financial and technical assistance to communities in the region to support entrepreneurs, improve water, broadband, and transportation infrastructure, and promote other initiatives to improve the region’s economy. The northern border region of New York State includes 28 counties: Cayuga, Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Genesee, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Livingston, Madison, Montgomery, Niagara, Oneida, Orleans, Oswego, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Seneca, St. Lawrence, Sullivan, Washington, Warren, Wayne, Yates.

Schumer will be joined by President Joe Keegan, and faculty and staff that worked on the NCCC grant, as well as elected officials from Essex and Franklin Counties.

“We are so pleased to have been selected by the NBRC for funding this critically important project and are grateful to Senator Schumer for his support in securing it”, said North Country Community College President Joe Keegan. “The project, which focuses on filling gaps in the water and wastewater workforce in the North Country, addresses a critical need in the region. These positions are vital to our North Country communities and intimately tied to their well-being and economic development aspirations.” Keegan went onto note “It (the project) and Senator Schumer’s support are a wonderful illustration of government and higher education working in tandem to help improve the lives of people in our communities. As with so many things at the College, the grant was developed through many partnerships including Town of Keene Supervisor, Joe Pete Wilson, and Essex County’s Office of Community Resources, and their Director, Anna Reynolds, who led the development of the grant. Our heartfelt thanks to all for making this possible!”

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