Nonprofits and the North Country REDC

Above: Fort Ticonderoga will use 2014 North Country REDC funding to purchase the historic vessel Carillon, part of their new Water Transportation Recreation System initiative.

Three years in a row, from 2011 through 2013, the seven counties of the North Country region were awarded the top prize for their economic development plan by the Regional Economic Development Council, an accolade accompanied by more than $273 million in grant funding.

2014 was the first year the North Country didn’t win the top prize, but more than $63 million in funding for 81 approved projects is still significant for the region’s economy. Approximately 20 of these projects are being led by 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations—that number increases dramatically if you count municipalities as nonprofit entities.

Two of the funding recipients have worked closely with Adirondack Foundation in the past and are excited for their new REDC funded initiatives. Indian Lake Theater is a community playhouse and civic center offering a wide range of programs to Indian Lake’s 1,400 residents. Constructed in 1938, the theater was purchased by a nonprofit group dedicated to its preservation in 2008. They now offer not only feature films but also host Hamilton County Reads, which provides a hub for local libraries offering literacy programs.

Area residents can also participate in the theater’s summer youth program and art film screenings on Thursday nights. But when the inefficiency of old office technology began making ticket sales, event planning, and daily operations difficult, Indian Lake Theater was challenged with making critical upgrades on a limited budget. This year, the REDC met their needs with a $3,300 dollar for back office improvements, including new equipment.

Danielle Shaw, theater director, was overjoyed with the possibility of continuing to expand their operations.

“Grants from the REDC and Adirondack Foundation are making the theater a more sustainable organization,” she said. “We can now continue our success for years to come.”

Shaw was also impressed with recent improvements to the REDC’s grant application process.

“The applications are more standardized,” she said. “This makes it possible for small community organizations with limited staff to apply for state level funding.”

Follow the theatre’s future success and community outreach programs at www.indianlaketheater.org.

Fort Ticonderoga, the historic gem of the Champlain Valley, will also be radically expanding its program offerings in 2015. Thanks in part to REDC funding, this year the Fort will purchase the historic vessel Carillon, part of their new Water Transportation Recreation System initiative.

The 60-foot replica of a 1920s era Thousand Island cruise ship will be used to provide luxury scenic and education tours of southern Lake Champlain. With an emphasis on the waterway’s rich historical background, this program will allow visitors to experience all Fort Ticonderoga has to offer in a whole new context while bringing more tourism revenue to the surrounding communities.

Beth Hill, president and CEO of Fort Ticonderoga, recently announced the expansion and its wide ranging benefits: “Thanks in part to a New York Empire State Development grant and other generous supporters, Fort Ticonderoga’s waterway experience will expand our tourism demographic, increase the length of stay of our guests, connect our historic properties on both sides of Lake Champlain, and highlight Ticonderoga’s epic story in a new and exciting way. We are particularly enthusiastic about this project as it is directly linked with a Town of Ticonderoga priority to increase access and waterway experiences through tourism development.”

The REDC seeks organizations that make an impact in their regions greater than the value of the funding they receive. Organizations like Indian Lake Theatre and Fort Ticonderoga. These destinations bring the dispersed population of the Adirondack Region together, building stronger communities and providing income to local businesses.

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