Digital cinema loan fund is $400,000

A dollar figure – $400,000 – has been put on a loan fund established for independent small-town movie theaters to covert from film to digital projection.

The North Country Regional Economic Development Council gave the amount to the Enterprise Wednesday, by request.

The council announced Tuesday it had reassigned some of its 2012 funds from the state for this purpose. The Adirondack Economic Development Corporation will administer the short-term loan fund for the theaters. The effort will be coordinated with the Adirondack North Country Association and Adirondack Film Society, which have been raising private funds for 10 North Country theaters to convert to digital as part of the Go Digital or Go Dark Campaign.

The theaters – including the Palace in Lake Placid, the State in Tupper Lake and the Hollywood in AuSable Forks – have said they could be forced out of business after this year, when movies will no longer be released on film. The cost of the conversion ranges from $50,000 to $100,000 per screen.

When the program is completed, the council plans to re-lend the funds to businesses across the region for start-up or expansion projects.

The way the way state gives out money for economic development has been dramatically changed under Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Instead of politicians and state agencies, the decision makers are councils for each of seven new economic development regions the state has been divided into. Each council has business and institutional leaders as well as state and local politicians, and their plans for what they’d do with the money are judged competitively and awarded pools of money accordingly.