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by Garry Douglas

The Power of Partnership is once again showing the pathway forward following the totally unexpected news that Nova Bus will end U.S. production, likely by the end of 2024. Within an hour of the announcement, the Chamber convened a core Working Group of economic development partners to share information and begin the process aimed at transitioning, as we have done in the past with such developments as the closure of Plattsburgh Air Force Base and Pfizer. And on that same day, we connected with our state and federal leaders and secured their personal collaboration going forward including Governor Hochul, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, Congresswoman Stefanik, Assemblyman Jones and Senator Stec. The Governor has made this new mission a top priority for Empire State Development (ESD) and her staff.

Most importantly, Nova Bus President Ralph Acs and his team have met with us to assure us of the robust commitment of Volvo Group to maximization of the evolving marketing effort. The development of a comprehensive marketing approach is already underway, led by Volvo Group, the Chamber and ESD. The dialogue is entirely open, collaborative and positive, getting things off to just the sort of start we would all want.

Concurrent with plans to market the plant and especially its highly talented workforce, the Chamber and its NAmTrans subsidiary have quickly developed plans to support the future of several area suppliers dependent in whole or in part on Nova Bus. Several responses are underway, including organizing a major booth for these companies at the upcoming American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Expo in Orlando in October — North America’s largest gathering of transportation equipment companies held every three years. It also provides a great opportunity to do presentations about the Nova site to targeted prospects who will be there. This major undertaking is being underwritten by ESD/Global NY, the Clinton County IDA and The Development Corp.

Most gratifying has been the continuing outreach from friends and colleagues in the U.S. and Canada in economic development, government and transportation equipment who want to help and are providing intel and leads, including in some cases directly facilitating introductions.

We have a year-and-a-half, but are off to the right start as a team, with a very strong story including a modern facility, a great workforce, a major cluster of transportation equipment makers, a proven support system for training including the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing at Clinton Community College and CV-TEC, our proximity to Montreal, the state’s active partnership, and our engaged network in Washington and Albany.

Onward and upward!

Garry Douglas is president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce.

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