Monday, January 16, 2017

Upper Hudson Recreation Hub Microenterprise Grants

The Essex County Industrial Development Agency was awarded an Adirondack Park Upper Hudson Recreation Hub Grant last year for a second round of the successful Hub Microenterprise Program.

A public information meeting for potential applicants will be held on Thursday, Jan. 19 at 7 pm at the Long Lake Town Hall.

The total amount awarded for this program, a partnership with Essex and Hamilton counties, is approximately $500,000. The funds were provided by the Nature Conservancy to strengthen links between communities and conservation lands.

An additional eligibility requirement applies to any entity located outside the five Upper Hudson Recreation Hub communities: a linkage demonstrating real impact on economic activity within these communities most closely tied to the new state-owned lands.

The MGP was established to provide grants to eligible expansions at start up microenterprise businesses and non-profit organizations that propose eco-tourism related initiatives in Minerva, Newcomb, North Hudson, Indian Lake and Long Lake.

Qualified applicants will be identified through an application process, and must participate in the Microenterprise Training Program to be held on Jan. 26 from 8:30 am to 4 pm at the North Hudson Town Hall.

The program will be conducted by the North Country Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at a cost of $60 per business (which may be eligible for reimbursement for grant recipients).

The applications will be due on Feb. 16 by noon at the Essex County IDA’s office in Elizabethtown. The timeline for improvements are expected to be completed by Jan. 31, 2018.

The MGP is specifically targeting assistance for entrepreneurs whose business provides visitor services and supports the Upper Hudson Rec Hub tourism industry, such as restaurants, lodging, shops, gear and guides.

The program will provide resolution to small businesses’ lack of access to capital and assist businesses to offer a more relevant mix of wares, goods and services to help improve the viability of the businesses and to become more sustainable and retain and create new jobs.

The MGP will also accept applications from not-for-profit organizations that develop initiatives (services, programming or physical improvements) that complement and attract increased eco-tourism to the Upper Hudson Rec Hub. The MGP will strengthen the linkages between communities and the surrounding Recreational Hub, attract revenue from recreating visitors, enhance the quality of life for the residents and leverage other private funding sources that will maximize the benefit that communities can realize through increased public use of the former Finch/Nature Conservancy lands.

The MGP will address the critical need for new and expanding lodging for visitors attracted to the area. It will also support businesses that cater directly to the recreational visitor (such as bait shops, back country supply shops and other commercial and guide services), located either at nature access points or in the community’s center of economic activity and tourist accommodations.

Grants awarded to businesses in the community’s centers can enhance areas that are designed to be market driven and offer the potential for walkability, increased commercial activity, and multiple consolidated quality visitor services in one area, including lodging, restaurants, shops, gear and guides.

A microenterprise is a business that employs 15 or fewer persons, including the owners or a not-for-profit organization located in or providing services in the program area.

To be eligible for assistance, a microenterprise must retain or create jobs. The grant funds can be used for the purchase of inventory, equipment, furniture and fixtures, operational costs, marketing, working capital and start up costs.

Overall, the MPG is planned to significantly improve tourism and recreation related businesses to become sustainable and more economically viable, which will also improve the resident’s quality of life. The first round of MPG provided a total of $100,000 in capital to seven businesses for projects related to equipment, inventory, start-up and other expenses.

For information, contact the Essex County IDA at (518) 873-9114. To register for the Micro Training Program, contact the SBDC at (518) 564-2042.

Photo: Map of the Essex Chain, courtesy Town of Long Lake.

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