MASSENA — Massena city council has voted to eliminate all funding for the Business Development Corporation.
At Wednesday’s meeting, board members approved reducing the monetary amount granted to BDC to zero, which will be done through a budget amendment.
The Business Development Corporation was already operating with reduced funding after Massena City Council agreed in March to cut its funding from $75,000 to $40,000.
Executive Director James A. Murphy had requested and received $75,000 in funding for 2022 when he appeared before Massena City Council during its 2021 budget working session. He said it was a reduction of 25% compared to the traditional financing of the city.
Since then, however, city council members have said they haven’t seen enough return on investment to justify keeping the $75,000 allocation.
The village council of Massena had previously cut funding from the BDC, opting instead to use the money to pay for grant writing services.
Now BDC’s operations are winding down. Friday was Mr Murphy’s last day as full-time executive director before moving to a day contract, giving him time to wrap up a grant he is currently working on and answer any questions. And BDC President Daniel S. Pease hinted that last week’s meeting was likely the organization’s last official meeting.
But, City Supervisor Susan J. Bellor said there was still a need to focus on economic development.
“After reading the article about the BDC no longer having meetings, what I would like to do now is invite anyone here from the public, anyone on any board admin, if you are interested in suggesting some sort of action plan so that we can continue to do something with BDC or have some sort of strategy on the road to bringing business to Massena, please do let me know and tell your friends and please ask them to contact me,” she said.
“I think we have to be open to that. This is an opportunity for all of us,” Ms. Bellor said. “Anyone on the village council or city council, anyone in the community who feels they have the strategy to bring businesses and build businesses here in Massena, please get in touch with us.”
She said she had done some historical research on the BDC.
“In 1984, it was called the Industrial Development Agency. In 1987, it was called Massena Industrial Development Corporation. In 1992, it was called the Masséna Economic Development Council. In 2006 it became the Business Development Council,” Ms. Bellor said. “I took the information that I was able to find with the help of Jeannine (Brouse) at the town hall secretariat, as well as the minutes on the website.”
She said a marketing plan was discussed in 2006 but has since been scrapped.
“Maybe we can get in there and take a look at it and bring it to life,” she said. “Who knows?”
Deputy Mayor Matthew J. LeBire also discussed the status of the BDC at the Village of Massena board meeting on Tuesday.
“This council will have to meet, I’m sure the mayor and the supervisor are already talking about it, to determine the next step for the two entities in terms of economic development,” he said.
Mayor Gregory M. Paquin said he and Ms. Bellor met with Mr. Pease for preliminary discussions.
“Sue has asked some of the BDC members to stay and help think about how we’re going to approach this,” he said. “Nothing concrete, but obviously we will keep everyone informed.”