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Chamber president doesn’t expect immediate partnership with BDC

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MASSENA - The president of the Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors says he doesn’t see any immediate partnership between their organization and the Business Development Corporation for a Greater Massena based on what he heard at a joint town and village meeting last week.

“The gist is nothing is really going to change, at least at this point. I think both the town and village will be discussing it at their individual meetings over the next several months as their budgets are created,” Eric J. Gustafson told fellow board members during the chamber’s monthly meeting Thursday.

“Hopefully we’ll have something at our next board meeting,” he said.

While there had been some rumblings about a possible partnership between the two organizations, the Massena Town Board agreed this week to fund its economic development effort at $60,000 annually for 2013 and 2014, double what it provided for the last two years. The town and village each currently provide $30,000 to the jointly funded BDC.

Mayor James F. Hidy said that while he couldn’t speak for his board, village officials may also continue their funding efforts for the BDC now that former Executive Director Jason A. Clark has departed the organization.

Thursday was Mr. Clark’s last day as executive director, and Mr. Hidy told chamber board members he envisioned the organization would be headed in a more fruitful direction without Mr. Clark.

He suggested that, despite the village and town contributions, “there was nothing done” with Mr. Clark as the executive director.

“I don’t want to give the BDC anything because we’re getting nothing. We had a guy chasing I-98 and doing nothing (for the BDC). Now that’s changed,” Mr. Hidy said. “The bottom line is changes have been made and I think they’re positive. I can only see good things coming out of it.”

He said that, among their options in replacing Mr. Clark, they could work with the county, hire a consultant or hire another director “to do what the town and village pay for.”

He also suggested the BDC, in addition to attempting to attract new businesses to the region, needed to be more proactive with local businesses that were already here.

For the time being, Mr. Gustafson suggested the chamber put together a committee that could work with the BDC to see how things would pan out if the two organizations were partnered together.

“I suppose it might be logical at this point to get a committee together. We need somebody to work with the BDC to put together how that structure’s going to work,” he said.

Mr. Hidy also suggested that the chamber, like the town and village, have liaisons on the BDC who could gather information during BDC meetings and report back to the chamber board.

“I think that we spoke about is the chamber and BDC working together. They (the chamber) should be included in conversations about what projects they (the BDC) are working on,” he said.

“More generically, it would be nice to know what the BDC is doing,” and they could disseminate that information to their membership, Mr. Gustafson said.

“I think that fosters cooperation between the chamber and BDC,” he said.

Chamber Executive Director Michael J. Gleason suggested they could incorporate what had been discussed at BDC meetings into the chamber’s monthly meeting agenda.

Chamber board member David T. Staddon agreed that the two organizations should work together.

“Let’s face it, our goals are not in opposition to the BDC’s. It makes sense in my opinion for the two organizations to join together in some degree,” he said.

At the same time, chamber board member Tina R. Corcoran said, the two organizations needed to maintain their individual identities.

“I think the chamber and BDC have different missions. I think we have to keep our identity,” she said.

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