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River Agency will spend less on community projects in 2013

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LOUISVILLE – The St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency will dole out less money for community projects within St. Lawrence County next year.

The River Agency will grant $556,330 for community development and improvement projects in 2013, according to its annual budget. The amount is $65,670 less than the 2012 budget allocation of $622,000.

Since the River Agency was granted $16 million in 2010 for economic development, the agency is contracted to allocate 5 percent of its total funds towards community development projects each year.

Deputy St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency CEO and Chief Financial Officer Thomas A. Plastino said that with low interest rates, the agency has not seen a large return on its investments so far this year. However, next year, that could change.

“They’re spending a lot more than they’re taking in,” said Mr. Plastino. “The lot the agency owns in Massena is up for sale, and has two potential buyers. The cash from the sale would go directly into the general fund.”

The agency could also see investment in turning a portion of 20 megawatts of hydropower granted by the New York Power Authority earlier this year that is not allocated to businesses into profit, Mr. Plastino said.

“So far we have no buyers as of Tuesday,” Mr. Plastino said. “But that could change any day now.”

In 2013, the River Agency will also spend $50,000 to expand its marketing plan. The money will be used to market St. Lawrence County to potential businesses in the area, Industrial Development Agency CEO Patrick J. Kelly said Wednesday.

Earlier this month, the group sponsored two cross-border trade seminars, one in Ogdensburg and one in Massena, which were aimed at marketing St. Lawrence County to Canadian businesses looking to export in the states and employ local people. Mr. Plastino said the seminars were met with positive results.

“I spent a day meeting with companies in Ottawa this week after we met last week,” said Mr. Plastino. “I think we got some serious interest.”

The IDA and River Agency are working to develop strategies for next year, Mr. Plastino said. Marketing, he says, is imperative to job growth and the financial stability of the county.

“If we’re not doing a consistent, disciplined attempt to attract companies from inside the and outside the county and Canada, then they should shoot us,” said Mr. Plastino. “That’s where the business comes from. You can’t sit and wait for the business to come to you. You’ve got to go out and find it.”

The budget, which has been passed by the River Agency, will go before the IDA Board of Directors Monday.

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