Locals eagerly await today’s grant awards

ALBANY – Saranac Lakers are among the many people nervously waiting today to see if the state will award millions of dollars in aid to business projects in their communities.

Today in Albany, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo plays host to his latest event that will award about $750 million in job grants to 10 regions statewide.

The Economic Development Corp. event will dispense state tax breaks for new and expanding companies, borrowing authority and cash to the economic development proposals judged to have the most promise in each region. Most involve a partnership with existing companies and local colleges.

Cuomo has taken the state’s annual economic development fund and set up 10 regional councils of local leaders to try to develop proposals that would work best for each area.

This year the North Country Regional Economic Development Council is betting heavily on Saranac Lake, seeking big grants for two major hotel projects: $5 million for the Roedel family to buy and renovate the iconic Hotel Saranac in the heart of downtown, and $2.2 million for Malone developer Chris LaBarge and partners to build a 90-room luxury hotel and restaurant on the shore of Lake Flower.

Cuomo touted both projects when he visited the area in November.

Another priority project for the North Country is the Wild Walk, an elevated walkway at Tupper Lake’s Wild Center museum that will get visitors up close to the forest canopy. Construction has begun, thanks to a $1 million state grant awarded in October, but the North Country Council is asking for $464,000 for the second phase.

Bionique, a Lake Clear-based lab that performs contract testing for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, is asking the state for $700,000 toward a $3.5 million plan to add 10,000 square feet of space to its existing facility.

The Adirondack Museum is asking the state for $2.9 million toward a $14.7 million plan to replace 30,000 square feet of out-of-date exhibit space with new, hands-on, interactive exhibits.

Also on the North Country’s wish list is $211,750 for Cycle Adirondacks, a new, $970,000 initiative proposed by the Wildlife Conservation Society. It would be a cross-park ride for up to 600 cyclists from all over the country.

Today’s event is exciting for local officials from around the state who learn whether they’ve won and how big a piece of the state economic development pie they will get. Among those most excited is Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau, who is in Albany today for the ceremony.

“IT’S A BIG DAY FOR SARANAC LAKE TOMORROW,” Rabideau wrote Tuesday on his Facebook page.

Enterprise Senior Staff Writer Chris Knight is also at the ceremony in Albany, which begins at 10:30 a.m., and the Enterprise will post news online today.