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LaBaff honored by IDA

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CANTON — The St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency has named the first building in the Canton Industrial Park after labor leader and IDA member Ernest J. LaBaff.

The IDA at its annual meeting Monday designated the building at 19 Commerce Lane the Ernest J. LaBaff Industrial Building.

“I’m thrilled and honored,” Mr. LaBaff said. “It’s hard to believe that after all these years that people respect me for what I do.”

Mr. LaBaff said he is pleased to have fostered a relationship between labor and economic development and proud to have been a member of the IDA.

“We’ve been the lightning rod for economic development,” he said.

The naming of the building, a first for the IDA, is in recognition of the impact Mr. LaBaff has had on the IDA, the local economy and quality of life for county residents. Mr. LaBaff was first appointed to the IDA in 1977. He is a former chairman and is the board’s vice chairman. He is president emeritus of the Aluminum Brick & Glass Workers International Union and a former member of the county Board of Legislators.

Accolades for Mr. LaBaff were abundant.

“I’m humbled to join all of St. Lawrence County in formally honoring Ernie for his decades of service to the community and the St. Lawrence County IDA. I’ve enjoyed working with Ernie for over 10 years. He still has the same can-do attitude and passion for the community he had when we first met back in 1998,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer said in a statement. “I hope this new IDA building, now named after him, will bring about even more good things for the people of this great county and that Ernie continues to carry his well-known spark and passion for decades to come.”

The 15,000-square-foot building was completed in December. It is home to the IDA and houses the St. Lawrence Brewing Co. It has 6,000 square feet of mixed-use space available.

Having the building bear Mr. LaBaff’s name is a recognition of his dedicated public service, Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand said in a statement.

Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, was also among those who weighed in.

“This is a great honor for a man who has tirelessly championed the pursuit of good-paying jobs for north country workers,” he said.

Support for Mr. LaBaff also came from IDA Chairman Brian W. Staples, county Legislative Chairman Jonathan S. Putney, D-Waddington, Clarkson University President Anthony G. Collins, state Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, and Ronald P. McDougall, president of the Central Trades and Labor Council.

“I only wish Ernie’s biggest supporter, his beloved Gertie, was still with us to see this much-deserved recognition,” Mr. McDougall said. Mr. LaBaff’s wife, Gertrude I., died in 2004 at age 72.

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