Monday, December 12, 2016

$750k in Grants Will Support Upper Hudson Tourism

upper hudson rec hubAdirondack Park Upper Hudson Rec Hub Eco-Tourism Support Grants are available for municipalities. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) partnered with National Heritage Trust (NHT) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to deliver competitive grant funding to support new tourism linked to the recreational opportunities. In addition, a companion microenterprise program will soon be available for recreation/tourism-based projects connected with former Finch, Pruyn & Company lands for a total of $750,000 in funding, provided by a grant from TNC.

On December 6th, DEC announced a Request For Applications (RFA) inviting municipalities to apply to the New York Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) for a portion of the funding. This RFA covers approximately $250,000 to be awarded early in 2017, for municipal projects implementing economic strategies and developing physical assets to bolster the recreation and tourism economy. This RFA is restricted to the Upper Hudson Rec Hub communities of Indian Lake, Long Lake, Minerva, Newcomb, and North Hudson. Grants may range up to $125,000 and do not require the applicant to provide matching funds.

The larger portion of grant funding provided by TNC will be made available to for-profit small businesses and not-for-profit organizations via a separate competitive microenterprise grant program (MGP). The MGP will be delivered by the Essex County Industrial Development Agency and will fund business development and training as well as non-profit projects advancing the recreation and tourism-related objectives of the RFA.

The micro-enterprise application window will open in early 2017, making available the balance of approximately $500,000. A public information meeting for potential applicants will be held Thursday, January 19, 2017. An additional eligibility requirement applies to any entity located outside the five Upper Hudson Rec Hub communities; a linkage demonstrating real impact on economic activity within these communities most closely tied to the former Finch / TNC lands.

Earlier this year, the state’s largest Adirondack land acquisition in more than 100 years was completed. The Boreas Ponds Tract was the final acquisition in a series of land purchases the state completed under a 2012 agreement with The Nature Conservancy to conserve land previously owned primarily by the former Finch, Pruyn & Company paper company. These purchases, most of which remain under conservation easements to support logging and recreation, protect 161,000 acres in all; featuring 415 miles of rivers and streams, 300 lakes and ponds, 90 mountains and 16,000 acres of wetlands. These lands touch six counties and 27 towns in the Adirondacks.

Through this project, the public has gained recreational access for the first time in more than 100 years to places like OK Slip Falls, Essex Chain Lakes, Boreas Ponds, Sugarloaf Cliffs and other locations. The conservation easement lands in this project also offer new public recreational access opportunities, including fishing access to the Branch River in North Hudson.

A prior round of grant funding of $500,000 provided by TNC and administered by DEC and NHT also supported municipal and microenterprise projects related to recreational tourism within and proximate to the Upper Hudson Rec Hub. The initial round of funding was awarded in November 2014 and supported the following projects:

– Town of Newcomb – development of equestrian accommodations serving Great Camp Santanoni; horse stables available to the public at High Peaks Kitchen & Campground

– Town of Newcomb – purchase of equipment to be used by local guide service; Newcomb Guide Service established in 2015

– Town of Johnsburg – purchase of inflatable kayaks for Upper Hudson trips; now offered by North Creek Rafting Co.

– Town of Minerva – town-operated campground improvements

– Town of Indian Lake – Town-wide Comprehensive Plan incorporating downtown development and recreation-related economic development

– Town of Newcomb  –  marketing materials and advertising

– Microenterprise Program – Essex County IDA; grants supported equipment, inventory, training, appliances, and marketing for new and expanding small businesses including: Hoot Owl Lodge, Newcomb; Sunoco Gas Station & Convenience Store, North Hudson; Adirondack Growl & Grub, Long Lake; Motel Long Lake & Cottages, Long Lake; Raquette River Outfitters, Long Lake; and Square Eddy Expeditions, North Creek and Indian Lake.

Program details are available here. Applications for the municipal projects RFA are due Friday, January 27, 2017, and awards are expected to be made in March 2017. The private sector micro-enterprise grant program application window is expected to open in January 2017.

The RFA announced supports municipal projects such as infrastructure that supports eco-tourism business or provides recreational opportunities, hut-to-hut hiking accommodations, trailhead or town center parking, connector trails and multiple use trails, waterway access sites, bike lanes and off-road paths, seasonal shuttle service for recreation, visitor orientation including traditional signage and new technology, and durable recreation equipment.

A separate announcement will be made by the Essex County IDA announcing availability of the micro-enterprise grant program (MGP). The MGP will be established to provide grants to eligible expanding or start-up microenterprise businesses providing tourist accommodations and other eco-tourism related services in the Upper Hudson Rec Hub.

The MGP will also support non-profit initiatives (services or programming) that complement and attract increased eco-tourism. The MGP will support establishments in town centers and businesses that cater to visitors such as restaurants, lodging, shops, gear and guides. As qualified businesses and non-profits are identified through an application process, the program will provide resolution to small businesses’ lack of access to capital and assist businesses and non-profits to offer a more relevant mix of wares, goods and services to help improve the viability of the businesses and retain and create new jobs.

Photo: Upper Hudson Rec Hub, courtesy Google Maps.

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