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Bill Clinton headlines today’s economic development conference

ALBANY — Former President Bill Clinton headlines an economic development conference in Albany today—and other prominent area executives are also participating.

Clinton will keynote the conference, which is focused on the statewide economic competition Gov. Andrew Cuomo has set up.

This summer, Cuomo created 10 regional councils, including one for the Capital Region. The 10 are writing strategic plans and picking projects best-suited to sparking the most private-sector growth.

The prize: Up to $40 million in grants and tax credits for each of the top four proposals, as judged by a yet-unnamed panel. Awards will be announced in December.

Two Capital Region names will be among the featured panelists at the conference, designed to help the councils improve their draft plans.

One is Gavin McIntyre, chief scientist at Ecovative Design LLC, in Green Island. His panel focuses on the keys to successful tech ventures, and how regions can foster more of that activity.

Ecovative, started by McIntyre and Eben Bayer, both Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute graduates, has gained international attention for its use of mushrooms to make eco-friendly packing material.

Ecovative will be among the honorees in November at The Business Review‘s annual Achievers awards dinner.

The other panelist is Laurie Griffen, co-owner of Saratoga Sod Farm, a 25-year-old family business in Stillwater. Griffen will sit on a panel about how agri-business is adapting to market changes.

The Capital Region economic development council is co-chaired by Shirley Ann Jackson, president of RPI, and Michael Castellana, CEO of SEFCU.

Clinton’s speech is set for 12:15 p.m., at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center. He is not charging the state his typical six-figure speaker’s fee (ticketing for the public ended last week).

Cuomo worked in Clinton’s administration all eight years Clinton was in the White House.

SOURCE: The Business Review

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