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City, OBPA look toward collaboration for the future

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A new era of cooperation has dawned between the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority and city government.

The two entities have forged an alliance in an effort to jointly attract new industry to the city.

“We have held a series of information-sharing meetings that occur on a monthly to bimonthly basis where we sit down and talk about the various projects we’re working on and how we can help each other,” OBPA Executive Director Wade A. Davis said Thursday.

He said those meetings have been regularly held since last fall.

The relationship wasn’t always so cooperative. In the past, the city and OBPA have been criticized by community leaders for keeping their interests too parochial and at times competing with each other for development prospects.

“That was true here for many years,” Mr. Davis said, “and that’s something that both I and the city have worked on. We both have Ogdensburg in the name.”

City Manager John M. Pinkerton said the idea of nurturing a cooperative relationship with the authority is a no-brainer.

“The city’s industrial base will never come back. Our waterfront will never be industrial again,” Mr. Pinkerton said. “We have to work with the Bridge and Port and the IDA (St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency) in any way we can to develop the industrial park and continue to bring in and expand industry there.”

It is not difficult to see how competition can develop among various communities and economic development agencies for development leads, especially when prospects are limited, IDA Chief Executive Officer Patrick J. Kelly said. But times are changing, he said, and so are attitudes.

“For the most part, I think there’s a recognition that what’s good for Potsdam is good for Ogdensburg, and what’s good for Massena is good for Canton,” he said. “The rising tide lifts all boats, and even if there is competition, I think it’s a professional, orderly competition. There isn’t a lot of throat cutting going on.”

Mr. Pinkerton’s background in manufacturing and his work as a business adviser at CITEC Manufacturing and Technology Solutions, Potsdam, has fostered talks with Ogdensburg industrial park tenants about future opportunities.

“We are talking about the ways the city and the Bridge and Port can help them, along with NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority), CITEC and the IDA,” Mr. Pinkerton said. “There are infrastructure needs potentially for businesses and for the Bridge and Port, and we’re talking about how we can collaborate.”

He said the city is also looking at collaborating with the OBPA for funding applications through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.

“There is some mutual cooperation between the city and the authority to get some parcels on the tax rolls and to create jobs,” Mr. Davis said. “That’s really been a positive change.”

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