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River Agency members mull project partnerships with Clarkson

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LOUISVILLE – The St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency plans to tour the Shipley Center for Innovation and Reh Center for Entrepreneurship at Clarkson University.

The tour was proposed following a presentation by Shipley Center Deputy Director Matthew E. Draper at Tuesday’s River Agency board meeting.

“The presentation was about how we can partner on future projects involving business and technology,” Mr. Draper said Thursday. “It served as a reintroduction to what we are and what we offer.”

Formed two years ago, Shipley Center supports the commercialization of innovations into the marketplace. The Reh Center supports regional entrepreneurs as they seek and manage start-up funding and grow their companies.

While a date has yet to be set, River Agency Chairman Robert O. McNeil said he and other board members would be very interested in setting up the tour in the “near future.”

“I think the interesting part is that they are very intelligent and creative people taking ideas and making them into businesses.” Mr. McNeil said. “The great precedent here is in rediscovering the value our educational facilities to our community. That really what strikes me.”

Mr. Draper said the tour will include a run through of some of the 134 projects and 61 start-up companies created as a result of the two centers. River Agency board members will also get an opportunity to see the Peyton Hall Incubator, which houses 23 developing businesses.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to answer questions, interact with the businesses and host a meeting with them,” Mr. Draper said.

Since it was formed in 2010, economic development has been the River Agency’s focus, whether by giving loans to small businesses or approving grants for community development projects. The center hopes to partner with the River Agency and tap into its resources. The River Agency several years ago was granted $16 million from the New York Power Authority to fund economic development initiatives, and last year was awarded access to 20 megawatts of low-cost power from NYPA to help new and expanding businesses in St. Lawrence County.

“Our focus is to create these businesses and create the seeds that will benefit economic development in the north country,” Mr. Draper said. “The River Agency will help to take them to the next step and help synergize the process.”

As an example, Mr. Draper pointed to projects such as the “Smartski,” whose name is still in development, from the Renowned Ski Company. The “Smartski,” he said automatically adapts to changing textures in the snow, such as from to ice-packed to powder snow.

“Prototypes are being developed and heading into the production soon,” Mr. Draper said. “That’s a place where River Agency’s resources can be helpful. They are involved in several projects where these businesses can locate and they can make sure the right people are aware that these businesses are here. The key to the success to the north country is working together.”

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