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Massena BDC awarded rail spur grant

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MASSENA - The construction of a rail spur in the Massena Industrial Park could indirectly create over a half-dozen jobs.

Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, jointly announced a $123,500 grant Thursday toward the construction of the rail spur. The federal money is the last portion necessary in order to complete the $548,500 first phase of the project, which will provide the industrial park with rail access to the nearby CSX mainline by constructing a several-hundred foot long spur. The BDC may expand the spur further into the park at a later point.

The BDC had previously received grants from the state and River Valley Redevelopment Agency to cover the remainder.

The $123,500 came from the Northern Border Regional Commission, created by Congress three years ago to boost the economy in Northern New York and New England, In addition, The Wild Center of Tupper Lake will receive $158,120 to help implement its Northern New York Maple project.

“This federal funding will help boost local economic development efforts,” Sen. Gillibrand said. “In Massena, this support will help build the rail infrastructure needed to help a local company expand while attracting new businesses into the industrial park. At the Wild Center, this investment will support the Maple Project, which trains local producers to help them expand and market their products and increase local tourism. These initiatives will help create and sustain good paying jobs in the north country.”

BDC Board President Daniel S. Pease expected the majority of the construction to take place in 2013. Curran Renewable Energy may expand once the rail spur is constructed; owner Patrick J. Curran said shipping his wood products by rail will open up his company to other markets. Curran would add jobs in shipping and production if rail shipping became successful, he said.

“There’s markets all over. You can’t truck all of it,” Mr. Curran said. “It’s just too far away.”

Mr. Curran said he expected more companies could find the industrial park attractive if it had rail access.

“I think we could be surprised with what could happen,” he said.

Mr. Curran praised the BDC for being instrumental in siting the spur; former Executive Director Jason A. Clark had applied for the federal funding.

“These folks have worked really hard on this,” Mr. Curran said of the BDC.

Mr. Pease thanked Mr. Owens, Ms. Gillibrand and Mr. Schumer for advocating for the project. If the BDC had not received the funding, it would have been forced to dip into its reserves to complete the project’s financing.

“We fully expect more job creation down the road with the rail in the Massena Industrial Park,” Mr. Pease said.

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