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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Economic Development Council grants will provide face-lift for downtown Massena

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MASSENA — When the North Country Regional Economic Development Council learned it had received $90.2 million from the state to fund projects across Northern New York, the Massena Business Development Corp. was among the winners, receiving $459,000 for a pair of projects.

BDC Director Michael V. Almasian said just over half of the money, $250,000, will be used to help restore downtown Massena.

Nineteen buildings will benefit from the funding, which targets downtown businesses.

“It’s mostly on Main Street,” Mr. Almasian said, adding that project boundaries do include a stretch of Andrews Street to Curves Fitness for Women. The stretch of Main Street included runs from Kassian’s Stove Shop to the Grasse River.

“The owners of the buildings were the participants and each of them submitted a letter of intent,” Mr. Almasian said. “All of those were collected and submitted together.”

Mr. Almasian said he was pleased with the number of property owners who chose to participate, because it benefits the proposals.

“Within that boundary, many, but not all, of the property owners submitted letters of intent indicating what they would do if we were awarded the money,” he said. The letters were nonbinding.

“Hopefully, most everyone will do what they said they will do,” he said.

Property owners were assisted by the BDC and Rick Hauser of In Site Architecture, Rochester, in developing their proposals.

The remaining $209,000 of the BDC’s funding will be used to construct a rail spur connecting Massena’s industrial park to the existing railway.

“The rail spur is going to serve (Patrick J.) Curran’s buildings in the industrial park, but it could be expanded so that other buildings could take advantage of it,” Mr. Almasian said. “To construct a spur from nothing is a big step.”

Although Curran Renewable Energy initially will be the major beneficiary of the rail project, Mr. Almasian said others will benefit.

“It’s not just going to help Pat Curran. It’s going to help the industrial park and if it helps the industrial park, it helps all of Massena,” Mr. Almasian said.

Mr. Curran said he was pleased when he heard of the grant announcement.

“It’s very good news for us,” he said. “The biggest thing we have to do is develop a market before anything can happen, and we’re working on that right now.”

Mr. Curran said the rail spur will make shipping his wood products, as well as other products, easier and more affordable.

“This rail spur gives us the opportunity to not only move pellets, but also wood chips, out of here and also help other people who may also like to use the rail as time goes on,” he said.

Mr. Curran also was given funding to purchase a fire combustion chamber that will improve efficiency by 20 percent by burning green wood residue as part of the company’s pellet-drying process.

According to his proposal, this could result in as many as 10 new jobs for harvesting, transporting and packing, as well as 10 new jobs for Seaway Timber, another company affiliated with Curran Renewable Energy.

Other beneficiaries of the council’s funding in St. Lawrence County include Slic Network Solutions, which received $1.37 million to expand broadband coverage into Long Lake and the surrounding area.

This project is part of the company’s efforts to create a broadband network that stretches across all of Northern New York.

The Raquette River Blueway Trail, a project that will benefit St. Lawrence, Franklin and Hamilton counties, received funding to build a walkway along the Raquette River in Potsdam and 15 informational kiosks located along the trail. This funding also will be used to make the Colton Information Center handicapped-accessible.

According to the proposal, this project will result in 15 temporary construction jobs, as well as five permanent jobs once the work is completed.

United Helpers Management Group was awarded $350,000 to create the North Country Regional Food Hub.

The 9,000-square-foot facility will serve as a distribution center for locally produced foods to make them more easily assessable to restaurants, grocery stores, schools, hospitals, wholesalers and others.

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