Village of Massena selected for $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award
A group of Massena and St. Lawrence County officials are shown here with Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Barb Rice who traveled to Massena this morning (Dec. 10) to announce the village as a recipient of a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award. NCNow Photo by Jeff Chudzinski.
BY JEFF CHUDZINSKI
North Country This Week
“This has been a rough 20 months, with many lives upended. I am here on behalf of Governor Hochul and it is my distinct pleasure to announce that Massena has been awarded $10 million as part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative,” she said.
“Our Downtown Revitalization Initiative is a critical tool to help businesses and communities in every corner of the state not only recover from the pandemic, but thrive in the long-term," Governor Kathy Hochul said in an emailed press release Friday. "Through the creation of cultural spaces, new business developments and better utilized space along the waterfront, this funding will enhance Massena for both residents and visitors alike and help attract even more people to the North Country."
The funding will come at a critical juncture for Massena, with many local business owners investing significant personal funds to start their businesses or to expand, officials said.
“This has been a whirlwind of my first few days in office, I have to say,” said newly-elected Mayor Greg Paquin.
He offered thanks to all involved, from those who assisted in the application process, and to the local business owners who have stuck by Massena.
“We have to thank our village administrator Monique Chatland and Deputy Mayor Matt Lebire for all of their hard work,” Paquin said.
Paquin also applauded local business owners Rick Hamlin and Bill Fiacco, both of whom have made significant financial investments in buildings and businesses in the downtown area in recent years.
More than $3 million has been invested in the downtown area in the previous year, according to Jim Murphy, executive director of the business development corporation in Massena.
With additional funding in place, many shovel ready projects can begin the next phase of construction, including work on the JJ Newberry building.
“I’m beyond thrilled, this was a great group effort by everyone involved in the process,“ said Chatland.
The next phase is soon to begin, with officials saying they, along with the community, will need to hone in the projects they wish to contribute funds from the DRI award.
“We hope to have them all done in four years and hope to have a center for the community that we can build out from,” said Paquin.
Other area applicants included Canton and Ogdensburg, both of whom have yet to receive a DRI award.
Massena now joins Plattsburgh, Watertown, Saranac Lake and Potsdam, which were the North Country Region's winners in the first four DRI rounds, respectively.
Massena will now begin the process of developing a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize its downtown with up to $300,000 in planning funds from the $10 million DRI grant. A Local Planning Committee made up of municipal representatives, community leaders, and other stakeholders will lead the effort, supported by a team of private sector experts and state planners. The Strategic Investment Plan will examine local assets and opportunities and identify economic development, transportation, housing, and community projects that align with the community's vision for downtown revitalization and that are poised for implementation. The Strategic Investment Plan will guide the investment of DRI grant funds in revitalization projects that will advance the community's vision for its downtown and that can leverage and expand upon the state's $10 million investment. Plans for the DRI's fifth round will be complete in 2022.