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Vacant Canton store may reopen as food-processing facility

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CANTON — After sitting vacant for nearly 12 years, the former Jubilee grocery store in Midtown Plaza, 19 Miner St., may reopen as a new business, creating the potential for additional jobs in the downtown area.

Canton Economic Development Director Linda M. McQuinn said United Helpers Inc. is interested in creating a facility that would process locally grown produce to be sold to large-scale customers.

Based in Ogdensburg, United Helpers is a nonprofit corporation that operates several nursing homes and intermediate-care facilities in St. Lawrence County.

According to preliminary plans, United Helpers would open a food processing facility by creating a partnership with area food cooperatives, including North Country Pastured LLC and North Country Grown Cooperative Inc.

During a report Monday afternoon to the Canton Town Council, Mrs. McQuinn said United Helpers would like to join the town in applying for state grant money through the consolidated funding application process. The state has set a July 23 application deadline for this round of funding.

Town Supervisor David T. Button said he understands that Garry L. Cohen, the New York City businessman who owns the empty Jubilee store, is asking $1.2 million for the property. Mr. Cohen owns several adjoining buildings within the plaza.

The proposed project could spur more business growth for the community, Mr. Button said.

“I’m encouraged to know that United Helpers wants to do something in the Canton Plaza area,” he said. “That store has been vacant for a number of years. If we can get that turned around and occupied, I think it would bring more development to the plaza and downtown.”

The United Helpers proposal is among four development projects Mrs. McQuinn plans to include in the grant application that will be submitted to the state. In this round of funding, the state has $750 million available through grants and tax incentives.

A regional records management project would involve a partnership among the town, SUNY Canton and other municipalities and nonprofits.

Another project involves establishing a boat launch in the hamlet of Pyrites for non-motorized watercraft. Development of the Grasse River waterfront would be a partnership among the town, Grasse River Heritage and St. Lawrence County. Plans include installing signs and creating maps of the site.

Developing a trail system that would connect specific land trails in the community is another potential project. The town would partner with the Friends of the Canton Trail and the village of Canton. The project could include better mapping for visiting tourists and possibly bike stands and stations for public use.

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