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Massena planning to hold joint meeting on BDC’s future

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MASSENA — Economic development has been a hot-button issue in Massena since the General Motors Powertrain plant closed.

With Jason A. Clark’s resignation, town and village officials may convene soon to discuss the future of Massena’s economic agency, the Business Development Corporation for a Greater Massena.

Mr. Clark resigned July 19 as executive director, ending a five-year tenure with the BDC. Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray said he would like the BDC to hold off filling Mr. Clark’s position until the agency’s board of directors, village Board of Trustees and Town Council can hold a joint meeting in the next week to 10 days. He said he has ideas for the future of economic development in Massena and would like to discuss them and have everyone be on the same page before the BDC moves forward.

The BDC’s funding has been cut in recent years, and the entity will run out of its reserves within the next couple of years if spending patterns continue. Mr. Clark’s departure provides a good opportunity for a joint discussion, Mr. Gray said.

“I don’t think there should be a mad rush to replace Mr. Clark with a new executive director until we look at a lot of different options,” he said. “Can we contract with an outside economic development agency? Can we get into a cooperative agreement with neighboring communities?”

He also wondered whether Massena instead could create a “planning and development” office, which could handle both building code issues and economic development.

“We have a scattershot approach to new development,” he said. “Can we somehow take the economic development function and fold it into code enforcement? I want to look and see how other communities do it.”

BDC board President Daniel S. Pease said he, too, would like to meet with the town and village boards soon.

“I think that would be a productive meeting,” he said. “We need to have the discussion about the long-range plan.”

But he said he wants to advertise as soon as possible for Mr. Clark’s replacement because the hiring process could be lengthy.

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