MASSENA — The future of the Massena Business Development Corporation is in limbo.
Board Chairman Daniel S. Pease said Thursday’s meeting was likely the last for the BDC, and board members voted on the status of executive director James A. Murphy after a brief executive session. Mr. Murphy interviewed for a job at New York State Empire State Development.
Mr Pease said Mr Murphy would continue in his role as full-time executive director until July 22 and then move to a day contract, giving him time to close out a grant he is currently working on and respond. to all questions. Mr. Murphy said he was in the process of securing a micro-enterprise grant. The program ended on June 30 and he said the final documents should be completed by July 30.
“I don’t believe there are any other projects and things like that in the pipeline. I work with IDA (Saint-Laurent County Industrial Development Agency). I’m trying to get money back for reimbursement from the old Core of the Community project that BDC did before I arrived, and I was able to find most of these things. The good news is that we’ll get about $12,000 back,” Murphy said.
Mr. Pease said that regarding the operation of the BDC, he met for about an hour with Mayor Gregory M. Paquin and City Supervisor Susan J. Bellor. The BDC was a joint operation between the village and the city.
“At this time, I anticipate this will be the last regularly scheduled meeting. I think everyone understands that there is going to be a change in the way economic development is going to be managed in Masséna. I don’t think the city or town knows exactly what they want to do yet. I think it is possible that the city will approach current board members and perhaps solicit future members with the goal of maintaining a BDC board. I told the town and the village that I was going to ask the current members of council to stay on while we are in the interim because there will certainly be resolutions that will have to be passed by us to put them to account. he said.
Mr Pease said economic development was a difficult process.
“Most of the time it’s pretty quiet until you open a business. We work well with IDA, but they are county-wide. They are not based in Massena. They will bring business when businesses want to come here,” he said, suggesting that town and village officials need to come together and come up with a plan for how they want to handle future economic development.
“We have a pretty good idea of what will be left in the budget. Right now there will be between $110,000 and $120,000 in the savings account when we finish paying for the audit,” Pease said.
“It will be interesting moving forward,” said Deputy Mayor Matthew J. LeBire, who serves as the village liaison to the BDC board.
Mr. Murphy said he was grateful for the support he received during his tenure as CEO. He has held this position since 2018. The BDC had previously focused on economic development with a part-time director, Thomas G. Sullivan.
“I would like to thank all the members of the Board of Directors for the support you have given me in a complicated period over the past three years. None of us anticipated what was to come. The nature of everything changed very quickly. But, the board has always been very strong in their support of me and this position. I very much appreciate that until the very end,” he said.
The Business Development Corporation was operating with reduced funding after Massena City Council agreed in March to cut its funding from $75,000 to $40,000.
Mr. Murphy had requested and received $75,000 in funding for 2022 when he appeared before Massena City Council at its 2021 budget work session. He said it was a reduction of 25 % compared to traditional city funding.
“The BDC has worked in deficit this year due to the loss of funding from the city and the village. We hope to recover some of this through fees and other means. My council has voted again for next year to absorb all of the deficit that exceeds $75,000,” Murphy told council members at that meeting.
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.