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Fri., Dec. 19
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Jason Clark, Massena BDC director, resigns

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MASSENA - Jason A. Clark, executive director of the Business Development Corporation for a Greater Massena, is resigning from his post. Mr. Clark informed the BDC board of his resignation during an executive session on Thursday night.

“I look forward to working with you during our transition period and throughout the rest of my career to ensure that Massena is able to capitalize on its potential and recover as the industrial and commercial hub in of the north country,” he stated in his letter.

Mr. Clark said the timing was right for his departure. In his letter, he stated a “personal desire” to work on “larger, more macro-projects, particularly those that involve infrastructure development and international commerce.”

He could neither “confirm nor deny” on Friday he would be hired for a job related to those issues. Mr. Clark has served in a volunteer capacity as chairman of the Northern Corridor Transportation Group, the entity largely responsible for marketing the proposed Watertown-to-Plattsburgh Interstate 98 project, in recent years.

“There’s a lot of reasons for the timing,” Mr. Clark said. “I think things are going to work out very well.”

Mr. Clark pointed out the BDC had accomplished several projects during his tenure. It finished a marketing video touting Massena’s assets, led the charge on a downtown revitalization initiative and helped re-establish air service at Massena International Airport following the collapse of Big Sky Airlines. He also oversaw the pre-construction and engineering of a spur which will bring rail access to the Massena Industrial Park, scheduled for completion later this year.

“I’m very pleased with the direction things are moving in,” Mr. Clark said.

Mr. Clark has served in the position for over five years. BDC Board President Daniel S. Pease said he had first heard of Mr. Clark’s departure two weeks ago.

Mr. Clark will work through Aug. 16 and assist the BDC in its search for a new director.

“I knew it was percolating,” Mr. Pease said. “We both agreed it might be time for a new direction for both the board and Jason.

“From the beginning, we felt we’d be lucky if we kept him for three years,” Mr. Pease said. “We appreciate his effort and the energy he has put into developing the village and town of Massena.”

There was no “single event” which prompted Mr. Clark and the BDC to part ways, Mr. Pease said.

“It was a continuing conversation that led to his resignation,” he said.

The move comes after months of tension between Mr. Clark and some elected officials in town and village government, including Mayor James F. Hidy and Supervisor Joseph D. Gray. Both questioned whether Mr. Clark was spending too much time on the interstate project and not enough in attempting to attract companies and jobs to economically struggling Massena.

In January, Mr. Hidy publicly demanded Mr. Clark’s resignation from BDC. Such criticism was unrelated to his decision to leave, Mr. Clark said.

“That’s completely independent of anything going on currently,” he said.

He said such criticism was partisan, and it “is what it is.”

“For better or worse, that’s something that is inherent in the north country,” he said. “If you look at what the BDC has accomplished, it’s easy to see that a lot of this criticism has been baseless.”

On the 57th day of Mr. Clark’s tenure in 2007, General Motors announced the closure of its Massena plant. For 18 months of his tenure, Alcoa idled much of its Massena East facility.

Mr. Clark said Massena has shown its resiliency after suffering such economic blows.

“Massena has evolved a lot over the course of the last five years,” he said. “In all the challenges we’ve faced, we’ve overcome them all and continue to move forward.”

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