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Massena’s BDC receives 19 applications for downtown revitalizaiton funds

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MASSENA - Economic development officials say they are pleased they’ve received 19 applications from business owners interested in renovating their business with help from $250,000 in state grant funds.

Michael Almasian, executive director of the Business Development Corporation for a Greater Massena, pointed out 19 business owners also wrote letters of intent when the BDC was applying for the grant money through the New York Main Street Grant Program.

However, Mr. Almasian said this is purely coincidental, as several business owners who wrote letters of intent have since become uninvolved in the effort to revitalize Massena’s downtown, and other business owners have come forward since public information sessions were held in March with the BDC’s consultant, Rick Hauser and Nicole Martin of In.Site architecture.

The funds, which will be used to reimburse business owners who renovate their buildings, aim to improve the village by creating a cohesive, attractive and historically preserved downtown corridor.

The applications will first undergo a three-week review period by the Grant Design Review Team, which will consider a number of factors in determining how to allocate the $250,000 in grant funds, such as the current state of a building and whether the business might draw shoppers downtown. After the review period, set to begin this week, the applications will go before the state Historic Preservation Office, to ensure each applicant’s goals fit the overall mission of the grant. The applications will go before the BDC Board for final approval.

Mr. Almasian said the BDC has final say because they’re the grant administrators, but feels the recommendation of the Grant Design Review Team is the most important factor in how much funding, if any, an individual receives to renovate his or her business.

“The GDRT’s decision is persuasive, because they’ll spend the most time reviewing an application. But the BDC is the grant administrator,” Mr. Almasian said.

The scope of the downtown revitalization might also affect how the grant funds are administered. Mr. Almasian said some communities choose to focus grant money toward a small number of businesses with the highest potential for public use, while other communities spread grant funds widely to improve the highest number of businesses possible. How the grant funds are dispersed will be decided by the review team.

“The GDRT is trying to do what’s best for Massena,” he said.

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