Agriculture_Markets
Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
 
   
Jessica Ziehm
518-457-3136
jessica.ziehm@agriculture.ny.gov


November 19, 2009

Governor Paterson Announces Economic Assistance Program For Lake Champlain Bridge Area

Program Will Aid Businesses and Farms Affected by Bridge Closure

Governor David A. Paterson today announced the creation of a $2.935 million economic assistance program to help North Country businesses affected by the Lake Champlain Bridge closure. The program will address the region’s full range of economic industries by awarding grants to small businesses; making low-interest loans to assist small firms in paying employees and keeping their doors open; and helping farms and manufacturers offset increased travel costs.

“The Lake Champlain Bridge closure has presented real challenges to our small businesses, farms and manufacturers. It is critical that as we work to develop transportation alternatives and build a new bridge, we provide the affected communities with the resources they need to keep people working,” Governor Paterson said. “This program will allow business to continue, keep people employed and pave the way for a strong economic future in the region.”

The Lake Champlain Bridge economic assistance program will be administered by the Empire State Development Corporation and has three components:

$1.3 million for Retail Assistance Grants: Small cash grants will be made to retail and service firms that have suffered revenue losses of at least 20 percent during the fourth quarter of 2009 fiscal year, when compared to the same period last year. These grants will compensate up to 50 percent of uninsured loss, up to a maximum of $10,000.

$1 million for Targeted Assistance for Increased Travel Cost: Agricultural and manufacturing firms will receive assistance to reduce added business costs due to the distance that detours add to their routes. Initial loans for working capital and capital investment can be converted to grants upon retention of employment.

$635,000 Community Revolving Loan Fund: Using a local community lender, loans will be made to help cash-strapped firms maintain payroll, order inventory and pay for operational expenses. Repaid funds will stay in the community for future business investment and growth. At the lender’s discretion, repayment may be deferred until service is restored.

 

For more information about qualifying for the program, please contact Empire State Development at 1-800-STATE-NY (1-800-782-8369) or by email at champlainbridge@empire.state.ny.us.

Dennis Mullen, Empire State Development Chairman & CEO designate, said: “Earlier this week, I was on the ground in the North Country and in Crown Point visiting with business owners affected by the Champlain Bridge closure and it was clear that the community is challenged. I applaud Governor Paterson for leading the effort toward recovery as this program will undoubtedly provide the life line these industries need, helping to offset increased travel costs and the loss of daily revenue and tax dollars to the area.”

On Wednesday, construction began on new temporary year-round vehicular ferry service near the site of the existing Lake Champlain Bridge. Last month, Governor Paterson and Vermont Governor Jim Douglas announced the establishment of free ferry service between the states, as well as a free express commuter bus with service to three major employers. At the Governor’s direction, State transportation officials are working closely with the federal government to expedite the demolition of the existing bridge and construction of a new bridge in Crown Point.

“We are working around the clock to establish an additional year-round ferry service near the existing bridge and are working with the federal government and Vermont to build a new bridge in Crown Point so that life in this corridor can return to normal as quickly as possible,” Governor Paterson added.

Since the Lake Champlain Bridge was closed for safety reasons in October, Governor Paterson declared a State disaster emergency for the affected area and deployed his staff and State agency personnel to the region. At the Governor’s direction, authorities established a toll-free hotline and a community outreach center near the bridge site. State agencies, including the State Emergency Management Office, the Labor Department, the Department of Agriculture and Markets, the Health Department, State Police, the Office of Fire Prevention and Control, Empire State Development and the Department of Transportation held a public meeting last month and have been working with members of the community and area businesses to mitigate the impact of the bridge closure.

The toll-free hotline number for information about the bridge closure – 1-888-769-7243 is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those calling from the 518 area code may dial 518-485-1159. The State outreach center is located in the Lake Champlain Visitors Center at 814 Bridge Rd. in Crown Point.

In addition, to ensure that the public is continually informed, regular e-mail updates are being sent to residents who have signed up to receive them. These updates can be accessed at www.lcbclosure.org.

 

The following statements were provided in support of the Lake Champlain Bridge economic assistance program:

Congressman Scott Murphy said: “The Crown Point Bridge is a critical entryway to the North Country, and our economy depends upon it for economic development and survival. Since the closure of the bridge, North Country communities have faced a tremendous challenge, and I applaud Governor Paterson for providing this critical funding that will not only help our small businesses and farms, but will get our local economy back on track.”

Congressman Bill Owens said: “Small businesses, farmers and families in our district have suffered from the closure of the Crown Point Bridge, and I applaud the Governor for taking this strong step in the right direction. We must do all we can to keep our local economy moving forward, and as we begin the process of replacing the bridge we must protect the job creating businesses and hardworking families of Upstate New York.”

Senator Betty Little said: “It is impossible to truly understand and appreciate the hardship of those who have been directly impacted as a result of this bridge closure. It is more than a disruption. Their lives have been turned upside down. Since the announcement of the closure, I have worked with local officials, my colleagues in the Legislature and Governor Paterson’s staff to push for the fastest possible remedy. Everyone I’ve worked with recognizes the severity of the situation. This announcement by Governor Paterson is good news offering more than hope, but real relief, to those who have been suffering financially.”

Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward said: “I am pleased the Governor has reacted to the difficult situation resulting from the Crown Point bridge closure. Our rural businesses face many struggles in the best of times. This assistance program will help our neighbors get through the lean months until a permanent bridge is completed.”

Moriah Town Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said: “This is very good news for the businesses that have been devastated by the closure of the bridge and for the number of employees who depend on it for their livelihood. I think it’s evident that Governor Paterson and our state representatives realize the severity of this crisis and we certainly appreciate all they are doing to help us through this.”

Ticonderoga Town Supervisor Bob Dedrick said: “What the governor has shown with this package is that he has listened to the fears and turmoil that many of the business have gone through because of the closure of the bridge and he has reacted to those concerns and given them hope. Because of this generosity, businesses will be kept open and this will help get them through an extremely difficult time in their lives.”

Barbara Brassard, Executive Director of the Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce, said: “Small businesses will find this very welcome news. This assistance is necessary to keep area businesses on their feet as we continue to tackle this crisis. The Chamber will continue to work with the Governor and our elected officials to address the needs of the businesses impacted by the bridge closure.”

Stanley Gee, Acting Commissioner of the Department of Transportation (DOT), said: “Governor Paterson’s economic assistance program will help ease the burden on local residents in the aftermath of our difficult decision to close the bridge for safety reasons. The State DOT is doing everything in its power to keep vital connections between the states open and safely operating. We are moving as quickly as possible to build a new bridge, and will continue to get input from the community as we plan it. In the meantime, we remain committed to assisting the local population until a new bridge is built.”

SEMO Director John R. Gibb said: “Governor Paterson knows the emergency closure of the Lake Champlain Bridge has had a tremendous impact on people’s daily lives. This innovative economic assistance program answers many of the concerns residents have expressed at the outreach center and in calls to the State’s hotline.”


2009 Press Releases