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Dreaming about prosperity in Massena

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Jason A. Clark is an idea man. An economic developer with a plan. A dreamer.

The executive director of the Business Development Corporation for a Greater Massena wants to build a plant to manufacture bicycles in the north country.

Where will this plant be built? Don't know. Who will build this plant? Don't know. How will this plant be funded? Don't know.

"We have a little bit of work to do on this one," he recently told a Daily Courier-Observer reporter.

Really, Jason? A little bit of work?

I said he was an idea man. I didn't say he was a good idea man.

His plan is like the old joke about the easiest way to become a millionaire: First, get a million dollars.

Again, I didn't say he had a good plan. I said he had a plan.

Mr. Clark's notion is that because 99 percent of bicycles are now produced in places other than America, there is a market for bikes made right here in the U.S. of A.

That is some pretty strained reasoning. It is like saying that I could play in the National Football League because there is a shortage of 53-year-old fat guys with bad knees on the professional rosters. I can dream of playing in the NFL, but there are some pretty good reasons why it will never happen.

Same goes with producing bikes in the States. One is that China can pay 143 guys to build a bike and spend about $1.37 U.S. for the labor to produce it. You can't get a worker to fill a tire with air for that amount of money in the States.
Companies can't compete by building bikes in America, so they don't compete. That's fact. That's reality. Nothing dreamy about it.

But I suppose dreaming is easy when times are hard.

We had that group that dreamed of spending a gazillion dollars to build a racetrack, casino, shopping mall, retirement village, amusement park and replica of the Eiffel Tower in Brasher Falls. That plan failed because they were unable to clear the first hurdle: Getting a gazillion dollars.

Then we had a handful of guys with an office in Washington, D.C., and an idea to build windmill parts and employ thousands in Massena's empty GM plant. Problem was all they had was that idea and the office - which I think they were renting on a month-to-month lease. Not exactly the best assets if your plan is to revamp the north country economy.

Most recently, Supervisor Joseph D. Gray and Mayor James F. Hidy joined the dream team by tossing out the idea that Massena become the home of a nuclear plant. What is the easiest way to do that? First, get someone with a few billion dollars who wants to build one.

Sounds like a plan. Not a very realistic one, but a plan nonetheless.

To be fair to Mr. Gray and Mr. Hidy, unlike bicycles, 100 percent of American nuclear plants are built in America. So, if someone is going to at some time site a nuclear plant somewhere in the States, there's nothing wrong with a couple of elected fellows asking the question, "Why not in Massena?"

It's a long shot, but it could happen. That's more than you can say for Mr. Clark's idea.

Which is probably OK. Once that pig dies, he will have more time to focus his efforts on other ideas and plans - like development of the I-98 Northern Rooftop Highway Interstate Corridor, or whatever that pipe dream is being called these days. Maybe he'll suggest turning it into a bike path.

Now there's an idea. First, of course, he'll have to start looking for a few million dollars.

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