Johnson Newspaper Corp. getting $400,000 for 'operating capital' from St. Lawrence County IDA, NCEDF
Friday, August 9, 2019 - 5:25 pm

BY JIMMY LAWTON
North Country This Week

The Johnson Newspaper Corporation will receive $400,000 in public loans.

The company, which owns the Watertown Daily Times and Daily Courier-Observer, recently closed the St. Lawrence Plaindealer in Canton and Ogdensburg Journal. The Johnsons have been downsizing operations in St. Lawrence County over the past few years.

The North Country Economic Development Fund Board approved a $300,000 loan and the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency approved a $100,000 loan.

The two loans totaling $400,000 are for working capital. Typically NCEDF loans are geared toward job creation, but in this case no job growth is required.

The Development Authority of the North Country administers the loan package offered by the NCEDF.

Michelle L. Capone, director of regional development at DANC, said the $300,000 loan is for a five-year term and that the NCEDF Board will “require a good faith effort” to maintain 38.5 full time equivalent jobs in St. Lawrence County.

However, according to Capone, the company is already below that number.

“We verified 37.5 FTE jobs which includes two full-time positions that are in the process of being filled. This does not include independent contractors,” Capone said in an emailed response to questions.

Capone said the loan application was received April 30 and that the job numbers were verified July 2 and again on Aug. 8.

Capone explained that “Good Faith Effort” is an industry term that means that the borrower will do their best to maintain the employment numbers, however there are no penalties attached for failing to meet that obligation.

According to the resolution passed by the SLC IDA, the company will be required to maintain 38.5 full-time equivalency positions throughout the course of the loan, which is five years.

The resolution approved by the IDA does not include the term “good faith” regarding the job requirement, but IDA Executive Director Patrick Kelly was not available Friday to clarify if the “requirement” has any penalties attached to it.

However, Kelly did provide the resolution, which identifies securities for the loan, which include the Massena press, the Watertown press and the Watertown GMA inserting equipment.