MASSENA — The Massena Town Board has voted to eliminate all of its funding for the Business Development Corporation.
During Wednesday’s meeting, board members approved reducing the monetary amount given to the BDC to zero, which will be done through a budget amendment.
The Business Development Corporation had already been operating under decreased funding after the Massena Town Board agreed in March to reduce its funding from $75,000 to $40,000.
Executive Director James A. Murphy had requested and received $75,000 in funding for 2022 when he appeared before the Massena Town Board during its 2021 budget work session. He said that was a 25% reduction from the traditional funding from the town.
Since then, however, town board members said they hadn’t seen enough of a return on their investment to warrant maintaining the $75,000 allocation.
The Massena Village Board had previously cut off BDC funding, opting instead to use that money to pay for grant writing services.
Now, the BDC’s operation is winding down. Friday was Mr. Murphy’s last day as full-time executive director before moving to a per diem contract, giving him time to close out a grant that he’s currently working on and answer any questions. And BDC President Daniel S. Pease suggested that last week’s meeting was likely the last official meeting for the organization.
But, Town Supervisor Susan J. Bellor said there was still a need to focus on economic development.
“After reading the article about the BDC not having any more meetings, what I’d like to do right now really is invite anybody here from the public, anybody on any board, if you’re interested in putting forth some kind of an action plan so we can continue doing something with the BDC or have some kind of strategy down the road for bringing business to Massena, please let me know and tell your friends about it and please have them contact me,” she said.
“I think we need to be open to that. It’s an opportunity for us all,” Mrs. Bellor said. “Anybody on the village board or town board, anyone in the community who feels they have the strategy to bring some businesses and build some enterprises here in Massena, please get in touch with us.”
She said she had done some historical research on the BDC.
“In 1984 it was called the Industrial Development Agency. In 1987 it was called the Massena Industrial Development Corporation. In 1992 it was called the Massena Economic Development Council. In 2006 it became the Business Development Council,” Mrs. Bellor said. “I’ve gone back to the information I was able to find with the help of Jeannine (Brouse) in the town clerk’s office, as well as minutes on the website.”
She said a marketing plan had been addressed in 2006 but had since been shelved.
“Maybe we can get in there and take a look at it and revive it,” she said. “Who knows?”
Deputy Mayor Matthew J. LeBire also discussed the BDC’s status during Tuesday’s Massena Village Board meeting.
“This board will have to get together, I’m sure the mayor and supervisor are already talking about it, to figure out the next step for the two entities in terms of economic development,” he said.
Mayor Gregory M. Paquin said he and Mrs. Bellor had met with Mr. Pease for preliminary discussions.
“Sue has asked some of the BDC members to stay on and help brainstorm about how we’re going to approach this,” he said. “Nothing concrete, but obviously we’ll keep everybody posted.”