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Massena to lose Michael Almasian, economic development official

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MASSENA — An economic development leader and longtime advocate for downtown Massena will move out of the area this year.

Michael V. Almasian, executive director of the Business Development Corporation for a Greater Massena since October, will relocate by early summer to Watertown, Conn., where his wife, Alison, has taken a position with Taft School, a prep school. Mr. Almasian said he will stay on the job until June, after which he may be hired by the BDC as a contractual consultant.

In the meantime, the BDC will advertise for a new executive director, either as a full- or part-time position.

BDC President Daniel S. Pease said he does not believe Mr. Almasian’s departure will affect the agency’s efforts to revitalize downtown Massena using $250,000 in state grant funds along with matching funds from downtown business owners.

Mr. Pease said the BDC will begin the search for a new executive director immediately, and after the person is hired, the BDC will continue to rely on Mr. Almasian for some projects.

A Massena native, Mr. Almasian owns two downtown buildings that contain retail space for four storefronts. He said he will ensure that the space is leased to tenants that will help revitalize downtown. He said he also plans to keep his residence in Massena and maintain ties to the region.

“I’ll still have a presence in Massena, still fight for downtown. I hope the ideas I developed as director can be completed,” he said.

Mr. Almasian’s ideas include a plan for the Grasse River that would include a pier, boat launch, footbridge, trails, lighting, visitors center and beaches.

“Fixing up downtown is larger than one person,” he said. “If you really want to fix a downtown, it takes a lot of people. ”

Mayor James F. Hidy expressed regret that Mr. Almasian is leaving, but said he is confident the community can continue moving toward Mr. Almasian’s vision for a clean, vibrant and popular downtown Massena.

“It’s unfortunate. He had a lot of great, creative ideas,” Mr. Hidy said.

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