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Arts business incubator in Potsdam draws strong interest

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POTSDAM - An arts business incubator launching in Potsdam has garnered strong interest, according to Planning and Development Director Frederick J. Hanss.

The village is set to launch its arts microenterprise and incubator project. Potsdam received $100,000 to launch the program several months ago as part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s first award to the North Country Regional Economic Council. The funding will hopefully launch eight to 10 new arts-themed businesses in Potsdam, Mr. Hanss said.

The village and St. Lawrence County Arts Council recently held two general interest meetings for the program. There were 14 in attendance between the two, Mr. Hanss said. He and the arts council has also fielded another three or four calls from artists who couldn’t make the meeting.

“The participation level was high,” Mr. Hanss said. “We’re looking at something that will be well subscribed ... There is roughly two applicants for every grant we have at this point, which is a good place to be.”

The village had no way of knowing how well-received the program would be, Mr. Hanss said.

“Nobody has ever done anything like this before,” he said. “Frankly, I’m pretty impressed.”

Artists will have until the end of the month to submit an application to either the arts council or the village. A panel from the arts community will determine who can be admitted to the program by June 15. The panel will review the artist’s qualities and their capacity to develop a business. Successful applicants will have to complete a 10-week course this summer to develop a business and marketing plan for their proposal before receiving any funding, which the village plans to distribute this fall.

A custom jewelry maker, an individual who crafts musical instrument cases and potters are some of those who have expressed interest in the program so far.

“It’s kind of a broad range of artists,” Mr. Hanss said. “We’d like to see them in a position where they could have a storefront in Potsdam.”

Arts Council Executive Director Hilary Oak was encouraged by the initial interest, but she said it was too early to tell which applicants would come through.

“We’ve certainly got some potential applicants in the pipeline,” she said.

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