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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Massena BDC hires Michael Almasian

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MASSENA - Michael V. Almasian is the Business Development Corporation for a Greater Massena’s next executive director.

The BDC Board of Directors voted 5-1 following a Wednesday afternoon executive session, with Larry Ralston dissenting and Paul Rufa absent, to hire Mr. Almasian at a salary of $51,500. The BDC will not be paying for health insurance for Mr. Almasian, according to Board President Daniel S. Pease.

Mr. Almasian was one of three finalists for the position previously held by Jason A. Clark and one of approximately a half-dozen candidates interviewed, Mr. Pease said Wednesday night. He was the only candidate who publicly expressed his interest in the job, at a joint meeting of the Massena Town Council and village Board of Trustees in August.

The BDC board was impressed with Mr. Almasian’s energy and enthusiasm for Massena, Mr. Pease said.

“He had some very good ideas for economic development that the board will discuss over the next few weeks,” Mr. Pease said. “I’m sure we’ll support some of his initiatives.”

Mr. Almasian, 47, is a Massena native and previously owned a law firm and served as the town’s attorney. He has rehabilitated buildings he owns at 55, 57, 59 and 61 Main St. over the last several years and lives in a downtown Massena apartment with his family.

Mr. Almasian said he would like to be more transparent in the job than previous executive directors and possibly keep the community informed of his endeavors through social media outlets. He also plans to build a consensus among the BDC, town and village boards about the economic development agency’s mission and goals in the coming weeks and months.

Aluminum was in its ascendancy when Alcoa first built a plant in Massena over a century ago, Mr. Almasian said. Likewise, Massena needs to identify and attract industries today that are on the rise.

“I will be pursuing industries that are at the beginning of their growth curve and can provide jobs to Massena for the next 50 or 100 years,” Mr. Almasian said. “We’re not devoting enough energy to the next generation of businesses ... I think Massena has got a lot of untapped potential.”

Mr. Almasian will attend his first public BDC meeting as executive director at 4:30 p.m. today in Room 30 of town hall. The BDC board announced Mr. Almasian’s hiring at Wednesday’s town budget workshop.

Town Council members suggested they would likely fund the BDC less than the $60,000 which the board previously agreed to and Supervisor Joseph D. Gray proposed in the 2013 spending plan, but did not agree on a final amount Wednesday night.

The $60,000 amount is what the town previously funded the BDC prior to a 50 percent cut to $30,000 two years ago.

“If you tell us it’s going to be another year before you can restore the funding, I’m not going to criticize you folks,” Mr. Pease told the town board.

Councilman Charles A. Raiti emphasized the continued need for the BDC in Massena.

“We need to have a voice to advocate for Massena. That voice brings in business, brings in development,” Mr. Raiti said. “We need that development in order to help our tax base.”

Councilman Albert N. Nicola suggested expectations would be high for Mr. Almasian.

“You better have an ‘S’ on your chest,” he said, referring to Superman’s costume, “because you’re going to need it.”

Mr. Ralston declined comment on his dissent Wednesday.

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